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A small biogas plant rises above the green grass of a farming meadow in the bio-energy village of Mauenheim, Germany, 27 August 2012.

A small biogas plant rises above the green grass of a farming meadow in the bio-energy village of Mauenheim, Germany, 27 August 2012. Six years ago, the village of Mauenheim launched an initiative to convert to biomass as the primary energy source and subsequently became the first village in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg to run completely on self-sustaining regenerative thermal energy.

Credit: dpa picture alliance archive / Alamy Stock Photo


Call to action:

Use biogas to facilitate the transition to regenerative and circular systems in energy, waste management, and food production.

Biogas is a combination of methane and carbon dioxide derived from the anaerobic digestion of organic matter. It can play a role in energy systems, accelerating the agroecological transition and creating resilient, local, and circular economies. However, it should be employed prudently. Its use in industrial-scale agriculture, such as dairy and livestock farms, is fraught with climate, environmental and social issues. These include manure effluent run-off, methane leakages, health impacts for local and marginalized communities, and entrenching agricultural practices that destroy and degrade ecosystems. Fossil fuel companies utilize biogas for greenwashing, using it as justification for delaying substantive climate action. Methane – a potent greenhouse gas – can be emitted at all stages of biogas production and use. Biogas systems that hold the greatest promise are those designed according to bioregional contexts and which integrate local food and energy production. Small-scale biogas systems can provide decentralized fuel and electricity to isolated rural communities. Biogas development should not be used as a justification for producing more waste, growing primary energy crops, or for delaying the transition to renewable energy and regenerative agriculture.

Action Items


Learn about biogas and its benefits. Biogas is derived from anaerobic digestion, which is the microbial breakdown of organic matter - known as feedstocks - in the absence of oxygen. Common biogas feedstocks include agricultural residues, food scraps, manure, and municipal wastewater. Biogas can be used for electricity, heat production, and cooking fuel. A purified version of it - biomethane - can also be used as vehicle fuel. Anaerobic digesters are systems used to produce biogas and vary in size and use. They range from industrial-scale municipal food waste, commercial livestock, and wastewater facilities to modular and micro installations for homes and even schools and small businesses. A by-product of biogas is digestate, an organic fertilizer and alternative to fossil fuel-based fertilizers. While biogas holds some potential for replacing fossil fuels, especially in hard-to-abate sectors, its role in the energy transition should not be overstated (see next section). Harnessed regeneratively and on a community scale, biogas has the potential as a solution for reducing fossil fuel use, cutting waste and pollution, re-localizing and decentralizing food and energy production, boosting local livelihoods, improving nutrient cycling and even enhancing soil health and reducing deforestation.

Learn about the impacts and challenges of biogas. Biogas is gaining increasing attention as a means of decarbonizing energy systems and managing waste. However, conventional approaches to biogas development have significant climate, ecosystems, and social impacts. Biogas should not be used as a justification for producing more waste but rather only to utilize extant and unavoidable waste.

Support and participate in local, community-led biogas projects. Individuals and local communities can play their part in ensuring the development of biogas benefits people and nature. Avenues for action include developing small biogas systems in your home and communities, as well as taking political action against damaging and greenwashing practices by fossil fuel and agri-food businesses.

  • Building your own biogas digester for your home or neighborhood can be done relatively simply and inexpensively, turning your waste into cooking fuel and energy. This article has some tips and inspiration on building a digester, while companies such as HomeBiogas sell ready-made systems for households and businesses.
  • Share success stories on social media and in your local press about biogas being used as a local, regenerative solution, such as the Palopuro project in Finland. You can get in touch with the founders of the project - Markus and Kari - and get advice on how to start something similar in your own communities.
  • Petition against industrial-scale biogas plants and raise awareness about corporate greenwashing around biogas from fossil fuel and agri-food businesses. There are many active campaigns you can support and helpful resources you can use, including this report and this article.


Farmers and Agricultural Businesses

Harness biogas as part of a wider agroecological transition in your operation. Biogas can be a means of converting agricultural waste - such as manure and crop residues - into fuel, electricity, and fertilizer. However, it also causes significant harm to local communities and ecosystems and can even result in financial difficulties for farmers. Seeing biogas as part of a transition to regenerative agricultural practices can enable farmers to better manage their waste, generate an additional source of income, and improve the health of their soils.

NGOs and International Agencies

Support small-scale, community-led biogas projects in rural communities. Biogas can play a role in boosting local livelihoods, decentralizing energy production and reducing deforestation. It can do so by substituting for wood as a fuel, particularly in isolated, rural communities in low-income countries. Projects should be tailored to their bio-regional and socio-cultural contexts, and locally owned and managed.

  • In rural communities, particularly in low-income countries, biogas can offer a means of managing agricultural waste and providing a reliable source of energy. A UNDP-supported biogas project in Rwanda has helped to reduce deforestation by replacing traditional dependence on firewood.
  • Capital costs for setting up small-scale biogas systems are particularly high in low-income countries. Providing financial support for small-scale biogas projects like those run by the AEJT non-profit can boost local livelihoods and energy independence while ensuring local ownership and sustainability.

Homeowners and Small Businesses

Consider biogas as a solution for managing waste and supplying an alternative source of localized energy. Used on a small, local scale, biogas can be an effective way to manage your waste and convert it into something useful while also helping you save money by using (and possibly even selling) the energy and fertilizer it produces.


Ensure that biogas development actively contributes to climate and biodiversity goals. Biogas is gaining increased political attention and government support as a pathway for decarbonizing energy systems and mitigating emissions from agriculture and waste. It is critical that this support embraces the principles of circularity and that feedstocks, technology, and end-use are adapted to bioregional and socio-cultural contexts. It shouldn’t provide incentives for delaying genuine action on the climate and nature crises, nor increase waste or lead to the production of energy crops specifically for biogas generation. Biogas should be supported only as a means to utilize extant waste and to facilitate decarbonization in hard-to-abate sectors rather than as a cornerstone of renewable energy, climate, and biodiversity policy.

Key Players

Palopuro Symbiosis is a pioneering project that demonstrates how integrated localized food and energy systems can have a cascade of benefits for farmers and local people and foster a decentralized and bio-regionally-specific food and energy supply.

Sistema.bio is a social enterprise that provides training, financing, and infrastructure on biodigesters. They work with farmers in Mexico, India, Colombia and Kenya.

AEJT is a member of the Regenerative Alliance which implements regenerative solutions in contexts of disaster and displacement. They work with local communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo to install small-scale biogas digesters, boosting energy independence and health, and preventing deforestation.

HomeBiogas is a B-Corporation that provides household and small farm-scale biogas systems.

Carbonlites is an India-based project which works with local communities to install biogas systems to convert municipal and agricultural waste into fuel and fertilizer.

Anera is a humanitarian aid organization working in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, and Jordan. Their projects include installing biogas digesters to provide local communities with a reliable source of fuel and utilize livestock waste.

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