Scientific bodies / consultancies

Biofuel studies by scientific bodies or consultancies

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT)

“There is no question that indirect land use change will be a consequence of European biofuel mandates. The additional supply of feedstock required to produce biofuels for Europe must come from some combination of:

  • Reduced stocks of agricultural commodities;
  • Reduced consumption in food and other sectors;
  • Increased productivity on currently cultivated land;
  • Cultivation of biofuel feedstocks on currently uncultivated land.”

ICCT (2011): Indirect land use change in Europe – considering the policy options.

“Anyone who has studied market and trade analysis appreciates the fact that increased demand for biofuel feedstock and related market price shocks will increase returns to cropland and thus competition for agricultural land. These market price impacts will reverberate through global commodity markets and induce both domestic and global LUC.”

ICCT (2012): A model-based quantitative assessment of the carbon benefits of introducing iLUC factors in the European Renewable Energy Directive

The World Resources Institute (WRI)

The world needs to close a 70 percent “food gap” between crop calories available in 2006 and those needed in 2050. If crop-based biofuels were phased out by 2050, the food gap would shrink to 60 percent. But more ambitious biofuel targets—currently being pursued by large economies—could increase the gap to about 90 percent.”

“Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems’ conversion efficiency—and therefore their land-use efficiency—is much higher. On three-quarters of the world’s land, PV systems today can generate more than 100 times the useable energy per hectare than bioenergy is likely to produce in the future even using optimistic assumptions.”

WRI (2015): Avoiding Bioenergy Competition for Food Crops and Land

“Biofuels and Electric Cars: Using ethanol or biodiesel contributes two to three times the greenhouse gas emissions of gasoline or diesel over more than 30 years. By contrast, vehicles using solar-sourced electricity, even using today’s inefficient batteries, produce only a few percent of the greenhouse gases of using gasoline or diesel.”

WRI (2018): Assessing efficiency of changes in land use for mitigating climate change

WRI press release

Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

“With the rapid growth of biofuel production and consumption, and the proliferation of policy decisions supporting this expansion, concerns about the biofuel sector’s environmental and social impacts are increasing.”

“Avoiding indirect land use change will be almost impossible to control solely through project-level certification of good practice.”

CIFOR (2011): A review of environmental issues in the context of biofuel sustainability frameworks

Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE)

“Recent studies on potential indirect land-use change identify and focus on a real concern, i.e. the risk that biofuel deployment could accelerate and worsen the current unsustainable trends of deforestation and depletion of natural resources in a framework of accelerated growing population, and food and feed demand.”

“Recent studies (…) show that land-use conversion from native land-uses to biofuel crops lead consistently to significant GHG emissions and a negative carbon balance, or carbon-debt, for decades to centuries.”

“According to the present assessment, the potential CO2 emission from land conversion to biofuel crops by growing first-generation biofuel crops is likely to be greater than the savings expected from the first thirty years of growing biofuel crops.”

Howarth, R.W. and Bringezu, S. (eds) (2009): Biofuels: Environmental Consequences and Interactions with Changing  Land Use. Proceedings of the SCOPE International Biofuels Project Rapid Assessment, 22-25 September 2008, Gummersbach Germany. Cornell University, Ithaca NY, USA.

Oeko-Institut – Institute for Applied Ecology (OEKO)

“Disregarding how and in which quantitative figures the possible GHG emissions from ILUC are expressed, it should be noted that the EU RED scheme in its current format is, in comparison to the Californian LCFS, fundamentally flawed with regard to favoring low-ILUC risk biofuels.”

Fritsche, U. R. et al (2010): The “iLUC Factor” as a Means to Hedge Risks of GHG Emissions

Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment

“When land-use is taken into account, these first-generation biofuels have significantly higher GHG emissions than conventional fuels due to substantial biomass and soil carbon release if carbon-rich land such as forest is cleared to grow the feedstocks (so-called carbon debt). It could take decades or centuries to offset these upfront carbon emissions by substituting conventional fuels with biofuels. Furthermore, additional impacts could also include soil erosion and biodiversity loss.”

“Conserving the existing forest and restoring forest on cropland not used for food production could achieve greater GHG mitigation than first-generation biofuels as well as additional environmental benefits.”

King. D. (ed.) (2009): Future of Mobility Roadmap. Oxford: University of Oxford.

CE Delft

“Studies show that emissions resulting from ILUC are so significant that they could sway the climate effects of biofuels from positive to negative, compared with fossil fuels.”

CE DELFT (2010): Biofuels: indirect land use change and climate impact

Ernst and Young

“Certain types of land use change can have very significant greenhouse gas impacts due to the conversion of natural carbon stocks into atmospheric carbon emissions which could negate any transport fuel greenhouse gas intensity reductions being achieved by the biofuels policy.”

Ernst & Young (2011): Biofuels and indirect land use change