EU-funded studies

EU-funded studies on biofuels

ECOFYS, IIASA and E4tech 

“Biofuel policies aim to mitigate climate change, but high emissions could compromise biofuels’ mitigation potential.”

“There has been an important debate on whether or not LUC emission factors should be used in biofuel policy. Our results show that LUC emissions are likely to be substantial, but some inherent uncertainty cannot be avoided in the estimation of such emissions and many parameters and assumptions influence the results. (…) However, our work also identifies some clear chains of effects and highlights impact patterns that can vary significantly between feedstocks.”

Valin, H. (2015): The land use change impact of biofuels consumed in the EU – Quantification of area and greenhouse gas impacts

“Our analysis confirms that emissions from the policy are significant, although the feedstock mix can play an important role in the overall results.”

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

“Simulations for EU biofuels consumption above 5.6% of road transport fuels show that ILUC emissions can rapidly increase and erode the environmental sustainability of biofuels.”

Al-Riffai, P. et al (2010): Global Trade and Environmental Impact Study of the EU Biofuels Mandate. IFPRI study for DG TRADE

“Globally, the additional biofuels mandate leads to an increase in cropland area by 1.73 million hectares without trade liberalization and by 1.87 million hectares with trade liberalization. The most affected regions are Latin America (primarily Brazil), CIS, and Sub Saharan Africa, while the cropland extension remains under 6 percent in the EU regardless of the trade policy scenario.”

“Overall land use emissions for the entire EU biofuels additional mandate eliminate more than two-thirds of the direct emission savings when we apply the direct savings coefficients of improved production technology expected in 2020.”

Laborde, D. (2011): Assessing the Land Use Change Consequences of European Biofuel Policies

Joint Research Center (JRC)

“The experts unanimously agreed that, even when uncertainties are high, there is strong evidence that the ILUC effect is significant and that this effect is crop-specific. The sustainability criteria in the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) limit direct land use change (LUC) but they are ineffective to avoid ILUC, and therefore additional policy measures are necessary.”

Edwards, J. et al. (2011): Critical issues in estimating ILUC emissions

“Indirect land use change could potentially release enough greenhouse gas to negate the savings from conventional EU biofuels.”

De Santi, G. et al (ed.) (2008): Biofuels in the European Context: Facts and Uncertainties. JRC, European Commission

Using more (conventional) biofuels in the EU, even if they are produced from EU crops, will increase the overall world demand for crops. If not managed properly, it could displace arable production onto land used for other purposes, both inside and outside the EU, and could lead to extra GHG emissions”.

Blujdea, V. et al. (2010): Biofuels: A new methodology to estimate GHG emissions from global land use change

“Some people may view ILUC as a secondary effect of biofuel production, but it is really a critical component of answering the question of whether diverting the photosynthetic capacity of land to biofuels from its present use results in greenhouse gas reductions or not.”

Edwards, R. et al (2010): Indirect Land Use Change from increased biofuels demand. JRC, European Commission

“Legislators need to understand how ILUC differs between biofuels from different feedstocks and regions. In fact, if an ILUC adder is used in legislation, we need to know this quantitatively for all biofuels/feedstocks.”

Brandao, M. et al. (2010): The effects of increased demand for biofuel feedstocks on the world agricultural markets and areas

European Environment Agency (EEA)

“Further expansion of bioenergy production may cause direct adverse effects on the environment and indirect effects due to displacement effects (changes and shifts in land-use, e.g. from grassland to arable land). These direct and indirect effects may undermine an important goal society is trying to achieve with the use of bioenergy — reducing greenhouse gas emissions — and jeopardise the achievement of other environmental goals, such as the protection of biodiversity and water resources.”

“This matters as indirect land-use change, in particular deforestation, affects the overall greenhouse balance of bioenergy production (Fargione et al., 2008; MNP, 2008). Deforestation and associated land-use change were responsible for about 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2004 (IPCC, 2007). In fact, deforestation is a more important factor at the global level than emissions from transport (Stern, 2006).”

“Future revisions of the EEA 2006 modelling work should therefore address potential indirect effects of EU bioenergy production and consumption, in particular on land use.”

EEA Technical Report (2008): Maximising the environmental benefits of Europe’s bioenergy potential. European Environment Agency

“Critically, indirect land-use change (ILUC) is not currently factored into the sustainability criteria and GHG assessment within the RED (EC, 2009b). This has the potential to substantially undermine the life-cycle effectiveness of biofuels”

“A further concern is the long-term competition for a limited biomass/land resource across a range of alternatives, with impacts on both cost and sustainability.”

EEA (2011): Laying the foundations of greener transport

AEA Group

“The most important message from the modelling steps are that direct and indirect land use changes play a very important role for assessing GHG emission reductions with a significant impact for the ex-post evaluation of the Directive itself.”

AEA (2009): Quantification of the effects on greenhouse gas emissions of policies and measures. Annex 1: Examination of land­use change on emissions savings [unpublished annex]

CE Delft

“Policy implementation should focus on effective implementation and improvement of the biofuels GHG emission reduction and other sustainability criteria. Prevention of negative impacts due to ILUC is key in this development.”

“Recent studies on the abatement potential of biofuels show that due to indirect land use change (ILUC) effects most of the biofuels will result in a net increase of GHG emissions. Therefore, it is not possible (and useful) to determine cost effectiveness figures for these biofuels.”

CE Delft. et al. (2012): EU transport GHG 2050 II Final Report

European Parliament study

 “Assuming current bioenergy and land use policy in the EU to remain unchanged until 2020, the order of magnitude of possible ILUC-related GHG emissions could nearly negate GHG savings from fossil fuels substituted by biofuels from dedicated energy crops.”

Directorate General for Internal Policies: Policy Department A: Economic and Scientific policy (2011): Indirect Land Use Change and Biofuels

Institute for European Environmental Policy

“Based on the assumptions set out in this study the additional emissions from ILUC, associated with the predicted increase in conventional biofuels use within the 23 Member States up to 2020, can be estimated to lead between 80.7 and 166.6% more GHG emissions than if these same fuel needs were met using fossil fuels, i.e. diesel and petrol, taking account of emission savings from biofuel use.”

IEEP (2011): Anticipated Indirect Land Use Change Associated with Expanded Use of Biofuels and Bioliquids in the EU – An Analysis of the National Renewable Energy Action Plans.