Government advisory bodies

Biofuels studies by government advisory bodies

Committee on Climate Change (UK)

“EU and UK regulatory approaches do not fully mitigate the risks of emissions from indirect land use change, and should therefore be strengthened. Specifically, both frameworks should reflect indirect land use change emissions, and the emissions saving relative to fossil fuels required for use of biomass in UK power and heat generation should be increased. If more robust regulations limit the supply of bioenergy which can meet defined sustainability criteria, the current 2020 targets for biofuels and biomass penetration should be adjusted down.”

CCC (2011): Bioenergy review

Renewable Fuels Agency, UK

“…current greenhouse gas lifecycle analysis fails to take account of either indirect land change or avoided land use from co-products. Failing to include these factors may create perverse incentives which lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging feedstocks that lead to higher net land use.”

“The balance of evidence shows a significant risk that current [biofuel] policies will lead to net greenhouse gas emissions.”

Gallagher, al (2008): The Gallagher Review of the Indirect Effects of Biofuel Production, Renewable Fuels Agency

Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL)

“Even with emission reductions of 35 or even 60% (criteria for direct emissions in the EU-Directive for biofuels), model calculations indicate that it would take several hundreds of years to compensate for the short term direct biodiversity loss due to the conversion of natural area for the energy crop.”

Kos, J.P.M. et al (2010): Identifying the indirect effects of bio-energy production

Netherlands Commission on Sustainability Issues concerning Biomass (CDB)

“…indirect land use change effects are real and must therefore figure in biofuel and bioenergy policy. Doing nothing is clearly not an option, as the unintended indirect consequences (threats) of incentives for energy crops are too serious.”

“By including the ILUC value in the greenhouse gas balance sheet, inefficient energy crops are ruled out and the maximum utilisation of residual flows and by-products is encouraged. This will cause productivity to rise and investments in efficiency to increase.”

CDB (2009): Make agriculture part of the solution! – Recommendation on Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC)

“Given the increasing demand for food, combined with policy driven needs for biofuel feedstocks, and awaiting development of technologies that allow biofuel generation from non-food feedstocks, on the short run we will be confronted with increasing competition for crop material and, hence, for land (inputs).”

CDB: Constraining the need for more land – Managing crop production, land use, biofuels and iLUC

German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU)

“From the point of view of climate change mitigation the first-generation biofuels (such as biodiesel from rape or bioethanol from maize), which involve the cultivation of temperate, annual crops on agricultural land, score very badly. When emissions from indirect land-use changes are taken into account, they frequently result in higher emissions than would arise from the use of fossil fuels.”

“WBGU considers emissions from indirect land-use change to be an indispensable part of any appraisal of the climate change mitigation effect of bioenergy use. Although research on the quantification of such emissions has only just started, it is necessary to produce quantitative estimates of these effects even today. WBGU therefore proposes using the iLUC factor (50 per cent) (…) for standard-setting (…), while adjusting it in future in line with new scientific findings.”

“In all pathways for liquid fuels in the transport sector, the analysis shows that if energy crops are deployed whose cultivation leads to indirect land-use changes the emissions balance is even negative, i.e. emissions are higher than they would be if fossil fuels were used.”

Schubert, R. et al (2009): Future Bioenergy and Sustainable Land Use. London: Earthscan.