Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fermentation: CO2 Gas and Climate Change

Brad Post:

(Copenhagen) Gathered together, for the past two weeks in an empty wing of the Parliament building, an unlikely assembly of climate scientists and members of the Federation of Oenological Leaders (FOLS) met secretively, in advance of The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark to discuss Carbon Dioxide emissions related to wine fermentation activities occurring throughout the world.

According to the United Nations “Over a decade ago, most countries joined an international treaty -- the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) -- to begin to consider what can be done to reduce global warming and to cope with whatever temperature increases are inevitable.” Missing from the Kyoto Protocols, according to FOLS President Juan Antonio Tempranillo, is an “accord that doesn’t necessarily exempt the carbon emissions resulting from alcohol fermentation (a buy-product of winemaking) but provides a sequestration framework similar to other emitters.”

Emissions trading, also known as Cap and Trade, is an administrative process to control pollution through incentivizing reductions in carbon emissions. The International Association of Wine Regions (IAWR) recently proposed an innovative framework, based loosely upon the Cap and Trade system, colloquially regarded as a “Cork and Trade” approach. The Cork and Trade approach sequesters the carbon dioxide (CO2) gas that is produced during fermentation. The “captured” CO2 gas is held at high pressure for later use.

With the glut of still wine available on the market and world-wide demand for sparkling wine increasing exponentially, the IAWR regards the Cork and Trade system as a net-gain model of efficiency. In the words of Dr. Tempranillo, “the Cork and Trade innovations highlight the imagination of international winemakers by creating a new market for greenhouse gasses – injecting CO2 into still wine to create a new class of eco-friendly bubbly!”

The next few days are critical as climate scientists and wine industry leaders lobby hard for the incentive program prior to the Conference.

Brad Johnson is a contributing writer for Make Mine Wine Magazine, an artisan winemaker, satirist, and proud member of the Eastern Iowa Wine Club. He Tweets as "Iowine".

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