With the dawn of 2024, we mark and celebrate the 20th anniversary of 25x’25, SfL’s inaugural initiative which led to the adoption of the first ever renewable energy goal for our nation. Two decades ago, working with and through our multiple agricultural, conservation, energy, national defense, academic, business and government partners, we set a bold vision to provide solutions from the land to meet our energy needs and developed and implemented the 25x’25 Action Plan to realize the 25x’25 goal:
By the year 2025, America’s farms, ranches and forests will provide 25 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States, while continuing to produce safe, abundant and affordable food, feed and fiber.
The 25x’25 Action Plan: Charting America’s Energy Future provided the policy framework and roadmap for the public and policy makers to use in setting a new course for America’s new energy future. At the time, our nation was still reeling from the 9/11 terrorist attacks and was searching for pathways to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The 25x’25 vision provided a pragmatic energy future alternative and went on to be endorsed by over 1200 organizations, 15 state legislatures, 36 Governors and the United States Government when it was adopted as a provision in the ENERGY INDEPENDENCE AND SECURITY ACT OF 2007 – Congress.gov
While more aggressive goals have been proposed since 25x’25 was adopted, it remains the only national renewable energy passed by the Congress and signed into law by the President. So, twenty years later where are we today? Close and within striking distance. When we set the 25x’25 goal in 2004, renewable energy represented approximately 5% of the total energy consumed in the United States. Today we are above 13%, and if enacted biofuel enabling polices were properly implemented, we would be close to achieving the 25x’’25 goal.
Who would have thought a group of visionary volunteer leaders, operating with financial support from Ted Turner and guidance and encouragement from Tim Wirth and Reid Detchon at the United Nations Foundation, could have created the bow wave that propelled and accelerated the production of all forms of renewable energy, and concurrently created new renewable energy markets and deepened our commitment to conservation of natural resources, sustainability and protection of the environment. While we are immensely proud of our accomplishments to date, we are not yet at the finish line and will be redoubling our efforts in 2024 to ensure that the 25x’25 goal is attained. Sfl has five objectives for 2024.
- Achieve the 25x’25 goal.
SfL will be focusing our work on improving transportation fuel quality to achieve national security, environmental, climate, public health and economic goals. Today approximately 10% of each gallon of gasoline (E10) used to power the nation’s light duty transportation fleet is composed of clean burning and more fuel-efficient ethanol. Attainment of global vehicle efficiency and emission reduction goals require pursuit of high-octane gasoline now. Ethanol is the least cost octane enhancer, is abundantly available, and is capable of increased scale soon. Engine technologies to use higher-octane fuels are well understood. Given the fact that liquid transportation fuel will continue to be in use for decades, this year we will be pressing EPA and the Biden administration to:
- Support adoption of mid-level blend ethanol fuels (E20-30) as an efficiency improvement and emissions reduction enabler;Remove market barriers to expanded use of renewable fuels; and
- Update test methods and environmental assessments to reflect modern day facts.
- Scale Circular Agricultural Bioeconomy Solutions for SDG Attainment
Only 15 per cent of the world’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets are on track and many are going in reverse. This alarming trend was the focus of the September 18, 2023 United Nations (UN) High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Goals where UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for an SDG Rescue Plan and innovative pathways to accelerate efforts to meet the global challenges of hunger, poverty, health and well-being, clean water, responsible consumption and production, life on land and below water, climate action and other SDG targets. SfL is inviting collaborating partners and donors to join with us in developing an agriculture engagement, information, education, and advocacy program that scales circular bioeconomy systems in support of concurrent Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) attainment.
- Anchor UN system decisions in SfL’s guiding principles
We will work to secure widespread adoption and incorporation of SfL’s Guiding Principles to Enable Food Systems to Support Sustainable Development Goal Attainment by 2030, including innovation and technology and farmer consultation, in UN agency documents and subsequent member states policies. Our UN system goals for 2024 include:
- United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) Farmers Major Group (FMG) is reorganized to include active participation of SfL aligned organizations across the globe; FMG adopts SfL’s guiding principles to shape policy recommendations for UNEP.
- UNFCCC formally incorporates pragmatic agriculture solutions pathways into the Sharm el-Sheikh Joint Work on Agriculture and other climate change, poverty, hunger, nutrition and disease in policy documents.
- FAO Food Systems Pathways are agriculture innovation and technology-neutral and outcomes-focused; FAO welcomes and engages farmers and private sector partners in advancing the DG’s manifesto “Building a Dynamic FAO for a Better World,” and in the development and implementation of FAO’s FAST, Roadmap to 1.5° and circular bioeconomy initiatives.
- Retain Climate Smart Agriculture funding and programs
Agricultural producers need access to tools, both financial and technical, to make climate-smart agriculture work. We saw the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), signed into law in August 2022, as a major win toward this end. While agriculture received less than 11% of the $369 billion in climate and clean energy investments, the IRA showed SfL that Congress is recognizing the important role sustainably managed farms, ranches and forests can play in mitigating climate change and simultaneously delivering essential ecosystem services.
The Act directed $40 billion toward existing U.S. Department of Agriculture programs promoting climate-smart agriculture, biofuel development, forest restoration, renewable energy tax credits, conservation technical assistance, and rural electric cooperative carbon capture and storage projects. Nearly $20 billion of the total investment in agriculture will support existing conservation programs that directly assist producers. Last year attempts were made through the consideration of appropriation/spending bills to repurpose some of the $20 billion infusion into the farm bill’s conservation title into other priorities, like the safety net. This year SfL will be working to protect the historic $20 billion investment that has been made in strengthening farmers, ranchers and foresters as they improve the land. There is no better investment than in the people who have dedicated their lives and businesses to feeding the world while enhancing their local, rural communities and the nation’s natural resources.
- Secure the SfL Vision
An Agricultural Renaissance led by innovative and entrepreneurial farmers, ranchers, and foresters constructing sustainable, profitable, and resilient systems that lay the foundation for a world of abundance on many scales; capable of producing nutritious food, feed, fiber, clean energy, healthy ecosystems, quality livelihoods and strong rural economies.
This vision requires participation and leadership from farmers, ranchers, foresters, and their partners in agriculture value chain to establish the social and environmental foundation for the successful achievement of the SDGs. For without successful agriculture humankind cannot thrive. Renaissance Report – Solutions from the Land . In 2024 we will continue our work supporting self-directed state work groups that are seeking to attain this vision. This will include our current active partners and work groups in Iowa, Florida, Indiana as well as others that demonstrate the readiness to launch similar transformational change initiatives.
This is an ambitious 2024 work plan, and we invite individuals and organizations with shared goals to partner with us in support of their attainment.