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UNICA Proud to Sponsor Platts Conference on Global Sugar Markets

By Leticia Phillips posted Jul 24, 2017
Leticia Phillips, North American Representative, The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) will participate in a session titled, Sustainability for the Sugar Industry on Tuesday, September 12, at 4:45 p.m.

Brazil may be the world’s largest producer of sugar, but the nation’s sugarcane harvests aren’t just winding up in your cup of coffee. They’re flowing into gas tanks as low-emission sugarcane ethanol, generating clean electricity from biomass to help fight climate change, and creating the future of clean renewable fuel through next-generation biofuels.

As the world’s sugar industry gathers at the 4th annual Platts Kingsman Miami Sugar Conference, it’s worth considering the modest but important role Brazilian sugarcane ethanol exports play in meeting not only the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) targets, but the world’s biofuel needs.

Platts’ conference will examine major trends facing the global sugar industry, and representatives of Brazilian sugarcane industry will share insights on topics like ethanol fuel supplies, sugar production and exports, and industry sustainability efforts – all reasons why we’re proud to be official conference sponsors.

Regional sugar markets and challenges of over-supply

Brazil sent nearly 630 million tons of sugarcane to crush in 2016-2017, producing nearly 34 million tons of sugar, and exporting nearly 27 million tons. As the top global producer, Brazil helps demonstrate how sugar supplies can be brought to market and avoid oversupply challenges.

Sugarcane ethanol has proven to be an extremely effective outlet for Brazil’s sugar output. Brazil currently produces more than 7 billion gallons of sugarcane ethanol per year, and typically makes between 400-800 million gallons of its production available for other countries to import. Over the past five years, nearly 1.2 billion gallons of sugarcane ethanol imported from Brazil flowed into American vehicles, providing nearly one-tenth of all advanced fuels consumed by Americans, with at least 61 percent fewer emissions than gasoline.

Those numbers are significant, but they pale in comparison to Brazil’s domestic consumption. Ethanol and bioenergy produced from sugarcane already constitutes 15.7 percent of Brazil’s energy mix, replacing more than 40 percent of gasoline demand and avoiding 600 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions since the ethanol program began in the 1970s – all while using less than 1.5 percent of the country’s arable land.

Updates on ethanol programs and cogeneration

Even with existing sugarcane ethanol successes, Brazil is advancing technology further into the future. Increased production efficiencies mean even more sugarcane ethanol flows from fields to fuel tanks.

Indeed, Brazil has the potential to replace 14 percent of global transportation fuel demand without altering current sugar production – a big boost in the fight to cut emissions. By 2050, global energy needs could double, increasing emissions up to 80% unless we pursue low-carbon fuel options.

Sugarcane ethanol producers are also pushing the envelope on cogeneration using leftover stalks (bagasse). Self-sufficient sugarcane mills use bagasse to power their operations instead of fossil fuels, often producing enough power to sell clean electricity back to the grid. In 2016, Brazil produced 15 million megawatt-hours of bioelectricity from cogeneration, and technology improvements could help this technology supply more than 20 percent of domestic electricity demand by 2023.

Brazil’s recipe for a sweeter sugar(cane) future

Add it all together, and the “Brazilian experience” of using sugarcane to power a renewable energy future is a recipe for success on how stable policy and investment in new technologies can fuel a green economy while cutting emissions and dependence on foreign oil.

This is an important point. The World Energy Council reports fossil fuels generate 63 percent of total global emissions, with transportation fuel generating 28 percent of U.S. emissions and 17 percent of Brazilian emissions.

So when it comes to creating a sweeter future for sugar and biofuels, follow the leader – Brazil.


More about the Platts Kingsman Miami Sugar Conference

Leticia Phillips, North American Representative, The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) will participate in a session titled, Sustainability for the Sugar Industry on Tuesday, September 12, at 4:45 p.m. The session will address:

  • Changes in the expectations of sugar buyers
  • A new outlook in the next few years
  • How are sugar producers planning to meet the requirements of buyers?
  • Examples from Brazil and other countries

To register to attend the conference, please click here

(Re)committing to the Paris Agreement? Europe needs to lead by example

By Géraldine Kutas posted Jul 14, 2017
As MEP Bas Eickhout’s stated, European policymakers are only credible in criticising Trump if they can themselves deliver at home. Let’s hope they return to Brussels in September with emboldened ambitions when it comes to transport emissions.

As the US president visited Paris for Bastille Day celebrations, his host his rolled out all of the paraphernalia of state, the pomp and ceremony so reportedly beloved by his American counterpart, in a charm offensive many have suggested was also an effort to get the latter to reconsider his stance on the Paris Agreement. And it seems to be working – Trump’s statement during the joint press conference that “something could happen with respect to the Paris accord: we’ll see what happens; we will talk about that in the coming period of time”, was not insignificant.

Is this a coming in from the cold? Did the president keenly feel the chill wind of isolation at the G20 which in many respects became the G19, especially on climate change? No-one expects Trump to abandon wholesale his fossil-focused energy policy, but there was a clear softening of rhetoric during the Paris visit – quite the coup for neophyte Macron.

Macron famously parodied Trump’s “make America great again” rhetoric with his quip of making the planet great again. With recent announcements of France’s ambition to ban the sale of all petrol and diesel cars by 2040, Macron is clearly positioning himself as a European leader in environmental stewardship and clean transport.

One of the EU’s signature initiatives in demonstrating its leadership on climate change is the Clean Energy Package that proposes measures towards clean energy transition. But the Commission’s proposal for a 27% target for renewable energy is too low. Proposals by European Parliament committees to increase that target to 35% or 45% are a step in the right direction.

Transport is responsible for fully one quarter of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. Which is why it makes no sense for the Commission to lump all conventional biofuels in together and propose cutting their maximum share in the transport mix from 7% to 3.8%. We have repeatedly stated that biofuels need to be considered on their performance, not their source.

Brazilian sugarcane ethanol is one of the best-performing biofuels, cutting GHG emission when placed in the EU market by more than 70% compared to petrol, and still by more than half (55%), even when the GLOBOIM study’s ILUC factors are taken into account. Stated concerns about land use change are therefore no grounds on which to justify the reduction of sustainable biofuels such as Brazilian sugarcane ethanol.

Integrating sustainable biofuels now into European transport in significant numbers will really help EU leaders achieve 2030 targets, paving the way for more ambitious 2050 targets. Just look at Brazil, where the deployment of sugarcane ethanol in flex-fuel cars has directly cut transport CO2–equivalent emissions by 370m tonnes in just 13 years.

It’s clear that it is perfectly feasible to significantly cut transport emissions if we use the clean technologies available today. If the EU is serious about meeting its own Paris Agreement commitments, it must therefore adopt serious and bold transport emissions reduction targets. As MEP Bas Eickhout’s stated, European policymakers are only credible in criticising Trump if they can themselves deliver at home. It would be an irony indeed if the Americans came back into the Paris Agreement fold, only for the EU to spectacularly wimp out on its own targets.

But the very real fear is that Member States will reject more ambitious targets. Macron will need to brandish his environmental credentials by not letting that happen. And EU policymakers should take advantage of their summer holidays to ponder on Eickhout’s comment. Let’s hope they return to Brussels in September with emboldened ambitions when it comes to transport emissions.

Wishing you all a great summer!

Our Authors


Géraldine Kutas, Head of International Affairs & Senior International Adviser to the President of UNICA Géraldine Kutas
Head of International Affairs & Senior International Adviser to the President


Leticia Phillips, Representative-North AmericaLeticia Phillips
Representative, North America


Sugarcane Solutions Blog

Biofuels in the Renewable Energy Directive – the final call

On 17 May representatives of the European Parliament, member states and the European Commission will meet to negotiate the provisions on biofuels in REDII. This might be the last chance to find a compromise that ensures the future of a technology that is critical to reduce carbon emissions in transport.

Read on


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