US and Brazilian governments sign agreement on partnership to develop aviation biofuels
Azul Embraer 190
Mon 21 Mar 2011 – To coincide with a visit by President Obama, Brazil and the United States have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to advance cooperation on developing aviation biofuels. The sides note that as the world’s two largest biofuels producers, the development of aviation biofuels “constitutes an important instrument for the mitigation of climate change and for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions”. Goals for the partnership include coordinating efforts towards the establishment of common standards and specifications for aviation biofuels, strengthening private sector partnerships and preventing international barriers to biofuels trade and development. The agreement formalises the close ties already established between the United States’ CAAFI and the Brazilian ABRABA aviation alternative fuels initiatives.
The MoU is an extension of an earlier agreement signed in March 2007 and brings together formal participation from a number of government departments and agencies from both countries, representing agriculture, aviation, defence, energy and petroleum. According to the Brazilian government statement, the two sides will support the existing dialogue between the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) and the Brazilian Aviation Biofuels Alliance (ABRABA).
CAAFI Executive Director Richard Altman said he was “pleased and excited” by the government support and recognition of the close relationship between CAAFI and ABRABA. “CAAFI sponsor and stakeholder relationships with Brazilian biofuels and aviation industries are robust and the roots run deep at all levels of the fuel supply chain. It serves as an excellent example of the capability that aviation uniquely can bring to biofuels development and deployment as a lead customer globally.”
Formed last year through facilitation by Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer (see story), ABRABA engages airlines, producers and feedstock growers. As Altman points out, Embraer has though been active within the CAAFI process since 2006. “The relationship took a significant step in 2009 when we started working with Embraer, Brazilian airline Azul, engine manufacturer GE and biofuel producer Amyris on a programme involving fermentation-based fuel and a biofuel flight using an Azul aircraft is planned for 2012,” he said.
The Brazil/US agreement was welcomed too by ABRABA Executive Director Guilherme Freire, who is also Environmental Strategies Director for Embraer. “This partnership will speed up the development of aviation biofuels in Brazil along the whole value chain,” he said. “Both countries are important players in biomass production and can bring complementary experience and knowledge to the table. This synergy will provide valuable progress towards a sustainable future for aviation.”
Freire said he foresees ABRABA and CAAFI working proactively together to support their members and affiliates as they further the development and certification process in alignment with each country’s own strategic interests.
Since its formation, Freire said ABRABA members have continued to forge links with major players in the Brazilian biofuels sector. “Right now, we are discussing with the Brazilian authorities issues such as technology and the certification process, as well as considering different feedstocks,” he added.
Activities planned under the governmental agreement include the exchange of experts and non-proprietary data and analysis on renewable jet fuel standards and environmental sustainability, as well as cooperation between research laboratories, institutions and industrial partners on demonstrating and deploying aviation biofuel production capabilities. There is also to be joint engagement in ‘multilateral fora’ to promote standards, trade and development.
A US-Brazil MoU steering committee is due to be set up to hear relevant progress on bilateral research and development activities.
Subject to availability and consistent with each government’s own internal procedures, funds are expected to be made available by the two sides on a project-by-project basis.
Last week, Brazil signed a far-reaching and comprehensive aviation agreement with the European Union that will open up routes between Europe and Brazil and increase cooperation on a wide range of areas, including the environment. The EU has made it clear that all bilateral air agreements must be compatible and consistent with its commitment to environmental sustainability.
“It is important that the agreement does not restrict the EU’s ability to apply regulatory or economic instruments to mitigate the climate change effects of aviation,” runs a May 2010 European Commission communication on developing a civil aviation policy towards Brazil. “On the contrary, the agreement should aim at close cooperation to mitigate the climate change effects. Brazil should be incentivised to develop and implement measures that address the environmental and climate impacts of aviation. These measures could include market based measures such as emissions trading or other forms of emissions credits and measures.”