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WWF’s New Biofuel Report: A Blueprint for Decarbonised Skies

First Hong Kong study on Sustainable Aviation Fuel charts a path towards greener air travel

[Hong Kong – 25 November 2021] Today, WWF-Hong Kong released the first local study on biofuel. Exploring current applications and future uses, the study explains how biofuel can help Hong Kong meet its decarbonisation goals and the obligations of its Climate Action Plan. One significant pathway to success is to promote the usage of biofuel in the aviation sector.
 
Biofuel is a type of renewable resource derived from living matter. Biofuels can be made from food crops, bio-waste, municipal solid waste (MSW) and many more substances. Hong Kong produces small amounts of biofuel locally from waste cooking oil, and a local company has the expertise in creating an advanced biofuel called “hydrotreated vegetable oil”, which is primarily produced in mainland China. In many parts of the world, particularly the European Union (EU) states, Canada, and the USA, biofuel is growing in popularity and is currently being used in various road vehicle applications.
 
The report explains that biofuel could help the transition of heavy commercial vehicles (HCVs) operation, where alternative solutions are yet to mature in short- to mid-term, with deployment in aviation sector in mid- to long-run. We can see the government is ambitious in decarbonising the transportation sector in the Policy Address and the new Climate Action Plan 2050, however, solutions for combating emissions from international flights of Hong Kong is not covered by any existing policy instruments, nor as part of greenhouse gas inventory of the territory. Further to WWF’s recommendations for the 2021-2022 Policy Address to “diversify Hong Kong’s renewable energy portfolio through regional collaboration, with application of certified sustainably-sourced biofuel to abate international emissions from the aviation sector.”Apart from that, development of biofuel and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), also respond to various sectoral plans under 12th, 13th and 14th Five-year Development Plan of China. 
 
Alternative aviation power sources like electricity and hydrogen are promising but are not yet ready, as these solutions will not likely be feasible for longer international flights before at least 2050. As emissions from international flights are considered as relatively “hard-to-abate”, therefore, SAF, a blend of biofuel and fossil jet fuel, will play a key role in decarbonising the international aviation sector in the coming decades and is considered as an encouraging transitional solution. The development and availability of SAF in Asia has shown preliminary progress, yet are still falling behind Europe and America. 
 
Beyond aviation, biofuel has further applications that will help Hong Kong transition to a low-carbon economy. Nik Sam, Assistant Manager of Corporate and Community Sustainability at WWF-Hong Kong, says, “Biofuel is currently a key energy portfolio component in the low-carbon transition of transportation sectors in countries around the world. WWF has observed that there are numerous issues with and barriers to deploying alternative energy solutions in Hong Kong; biofuel can play an important transitional role, especially in full applications relating to mobility and transportation.”
 
With Hong Kong being a crucial part of the Greater Bay Area’s (GBA) success, there are numerous opportunities in the near and mid-term future for biofuel to assist in the low-carbon transition for various mobility and transportation-related sectors. These include government fleets and marine vessels, HCVs and local marine vessels. In the longer term, with the focus shifting to aviation, Hong Kong can leverage its status as a regional hub to facilitate collaboration within GBA and lead the development and popularisation of SAF. 
 
To achieve a transitional pathway in developing biofuel application as part of Hong Kong’s renewable energy portfolio and Climate Action Plan, and accelerating long-term emissions reductions in the GBA, WWF-Hong Kong has gained inputs from over 20 stakeholders from various sectors and came up with various recommendations in the study. These include: paying close attention to the planning and policies of China and other countries to fulfil future biofuel needs of relevant sectors, positioning biofuel as an intermediate solution backed by government support, as well as legislative and financial assistance. 
 
Karen Ho, WWF-Hong Kong’s Head of Corporate and Community Sustainability, concludes, “Being an international financial hub and a regional transport hub, Hong Kong can play a bigger role in decarbonisation and building climate resilience in the Bay Area. We hope that by adopting our recommendations, the local energy portfolio can be enhanced, which in turn will help establish Hong Kong as a role model with a greener energy mix that contributessignificantly to the whole region's competitiveness and liveability ”. 
Biofuel
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