UK organisations urge COP26 President to support anaerobic digestion

A consortium of 19 UK organisations has urged Alok Sharma, President of the UN Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP26), to advocate anaerobic digestion (AD).

In a letter to the president, the cross-industry cooperative, led by the UK Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA), encourages Sharma to support AD in order to ‘improve waste management’ and facilitate the UK’s fight against climate change. It states that this advocacy could see the UK’s transport, heat, agriculture, and food and drink industries being decarbonised by ensuring that all organic wastes are captured and transformed into bioresources using AD technology. The letter also states that AD could help deliver 30 per cent of the fifth Carbon Budget shortfall.

AD plantThe consortium goes on to underscore that the promotion of AD would support the UK economy, as well as job creation across the nation. It believes that 60,000 green jobs would be created over the next decade if COP26 were to promote the process, with an estimated £5 billion of private sector investment being brought in through AD.

ADBA states that the AD industry requires a policy framework that assembles the strands of ongoing governmental work within the field into a comprehensive support strategy. In order to develop such a strategy, the trade body has been engaging with government departments, initiating the launch of the UK AD and Biogas Industry Climate Declaration back in June. This commitment will see the sector entrusted to do ‘everything in its powers to deliver the greatest possible carbon reduction for the UK’.

Charlotte Morton, ADBA Chief Executive, commented: "There are over 140 million tonnes of readily available organic wastes still being left undigested in the UK every year. Left untreated, they release methane - a potent greenhouse gas - directly into the atmosphere, which contributes to climate change and causes human health issues.

“Recycling these through AD instead means that these emissions are captured and the organic wastes turned into valuable bioresources, such as a storable, flexible green gas (biogas), a rich-in-nutrient bio-fertiliser (digestate), bioCO2 as well as other valuable bio-products. These products can help decarbonise carbon-intensive sectors such as heat, transport and agriculture

"In addition to helping the UK demonstrate leadership in addressing the climate emergency, AD offers a huge economic opportunity for the country to generate jobs, level up the country, attract investment and boost exports around the world. With the right support, the UK AD sector would become highly competitive globally".