On September 9, 2023, India made a significant announcement that has the potential to reshape the global energy landscape. At a G20 summit held in New Delhi, on the sideline, India unveiled the Global Biofuel
Alliance (GBA), a groundbreaking initiative to promote cleaner and more sustainable fuels. This alliance marks a historic milestone in the world's ongoing efforts to transition to greener energy sources, a more eco-friendly future and reduce the environmental impact of traditional fossil fuels.
The urgency of adopting cleaner energy sources on a global scale has never been more apparent. Our planet faces an environmental crisis, with climate change and air pollution posing significant threats to our health and the well-being of future generations.
Understanding Biofuel Before delving into the specifics of the Global Biofuel Alliance, let us first understand what biofuel is. Biofuel is a renewable energy source derived from biomass, which includes organic materials like crop residue, plant waste, and municipal solid waste.
Unlike fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, biofuels are considered environmentally friendly because they produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions when burned.
Biofuels play a crucial role in reducing carbon emissions and mitigating climate change. They offer a sustainable alternative to conventional fossil fuels and are increasingly important in India's energy landscape.
India's Energy Landscape
India imports more than 85 percent of its crude oil, making it highly dependent on foreign sources for its energy
needs. This dependency has not only economic but also environmental implications. India has been gradually
expanding its capacity to produce biofuels from various sources, including agricultural waste and plant residues,
to address these challenges. One of the key components of India's biofuel strategy is the blending of ethanol
with gasoline. Ethanol, which can be sourced from sugarcane and agricultural waste, is seen as a promising
biofuel that can reduce the transportation sector's carbon footprint. India has set ambitious targets to double the
blending of ethanol in petrol to 20 per cent by 2025. Additionally, the country is establishing numerous
compressed biogas (CBG) plants, particularly in rural areas, to reduce its reliance on traditional fossil fuels
India's Target: Carbon Neutrality by 2070
India's proactive approach to biofuels and renewable energy is part of its commitment to environmental
sustainability. The Indian government has set an ambitious target to achieve carbon neutrality by 2070. This
goal reflects India's determination to reduce its carbon emissions and combat the effects of climate change. In
pursuit of this target, India has significantly increased its share of renewable energy in its overall energy mix.
Over the past decade, the country has witnessed a 20-fold increase in its solar energy capacity. This transition
towards cleaner and more sustainable energy sources is crucial in reducing India's carbon footprint.
Path to Ethanol Blending
In its efforts to increase ethanol blending in gasoline, currently, India blends about 1.5 per cent ethanol with
petrol. However, the nation is determined to raise this blending percentage to 20 per cent by 2025, a significant
leap forward in its pursuit of greener transportation fuels. This ambitious target is exemplified by introducing
E20 fuel, which contains 20 per cent ethanol, at over 4,000 fuel stations nationwide. Oil Minister Hardeep Singh
Puri emphasized that this initiative is a crucial step towards a greener future for India and the world.
Against India's commitment to sustainability and clean energy, the Global Biofuel Alliance (GBA) emerges as a
game-changer. This alliance, initiated by India, aims to accelerate global efforts to transition to renewable
· Promoting Cooperation: The alliance seeks to foster cooperation among member nations to enhance the
utilization of sustainable biofuels, particularly in the transportation sector.
· Bolstering Biofuel Markets: The GBA aims to strengthen biofuel markets worldwide, facilitating the growth
and adoption of biofuels as a viable energy source.
· Facilitating Global Biofuel Trade: One of the primary goals of the alliance is to enable the global trade of
biofuels derived from various sources.
· Sharing Policy Insights: The GBA will provide a platform for member nations to share valuable policy insights
and best practices related to biofuel production and usage.
· Providing Technical Support: Technical support for national biofuel programs worldwide will be a significant
focus of the alliance, enabling countries to develop their biofuel capabilities.
The Significance of the Global Biofuel Alliance
· A Global Effort: By bringing together countries from different regions and economic backgrounds, the GBA
promotes a unified global effort to address environmental challenges and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
· Trade in Sustainable Biofuels: The alliance facilitates the trade of biofuels derived from sustainable sources,
promoting the use of cleaner energy sources worldwide.
· Accelerating Carbon Neutrality: The GBA aligns with global efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by
encouraging the adoption of biofuels.
· Combating Climate Change: Biofuels play a vital role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, making the GBA
a critical player in the fight against climate change.
· Promoting Economic Growth: The alliance has the potential to create new economic opportunities, which can
stimulate job growth and economic development.
To begin with, GBA comprises 19 countries and 12 international organizations, reflecting a diverse and
inclusive approach to addressing global energy challenges. The G20 member countries supporting the alliance
are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India, Italy, South Africa, and the United States. Several other countries are going to join the alliance in future.
Four G20 Invitee countries supporting the GBA include Bangladesh, Singapore, Mauritius, and the United Arab
Emirates. Furthermore, eight non-G20 countries have joined the alliance: Iceland, Kenya, Guyana, Paraguay,
Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Uganda, and Finland.
The alliance's membership also includes key international organizations such as the World Bank, Asian
Development Bank, World Economic Forum, World LPG Organisation, International Energy Agency,
International Energy Forum, International Renewable Energy Agency, and World Biogas Association.
Together, these members constitute significant producers and consumers of biofuels. The United States, Brazil,
and India are among the largest contributors to biofuel production and consumption, collectively accounting for
approximately 85% of global biofuel production and 81% of consumption.
According to a study by the Indian Biogas Association (IBA), this alliance can generate opportunities worth
USD 500 billion in the next three years for G20 countries. This significant economic impact highlights the
potential of biofuels as a driver of economic growth and job creation.
As we look to the future, nations across the globe must recognize the significance of this initiative and come
together to adopt biofuels on a global scale. The GBA's vision of a greener, more sustainable world is not just a
necessity but an obligation we owe to the Earth and the air we breathe. It is a call to action, urging us to
prioritize our planet's health and the preservation of clean, breathable air for all.
Incorporating biofuels into our energy systems is not merely an option but a must-do to save the Earth and its
precious atmosphere. The time to act is now, and the GBA provides a promising roadmap for a more sustainable
Surinder Singh Oberoi is a regular contributor to Greater Kashmir