Unaccounted emissions from biofuels - Presentation at UNFCCC Bonn Climate Talks 2011

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Converting carbon-rich lands such as rainforests, peatlands, savannas or grasslands to produce biofuels will increase CO2 emissions for decades or centuries, releasing 17 to 420 times more CO2 than the fossil fuels they replace.

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  • The scenario we all fear: BAU; no serious climate policy, no way we are keeping CO2 levels below 450 ppm. But also no serious land use change for biofuels.
  • Under a model that treats land-based carbon emissions equally with industrial and fossil fuel emissions, deforestation is replaced by afforestation.
  • Under a model that prices only fossil fuels and industrial carbon emissions, bioenergy receives perverse incentives for biofuels to expand while carbon emissions increase. As bioenergy increases, land uses shift from food and fiber crops, forests and unmanaged ecosystems to dedicated biomass. While this may be an extreme scenario, it is illustrative of the incentives that are currently in place.
  • So what are the environmental impacts of land use change for biofuels? Very hard to say as it depends on the land that is converted and the biofuel feed stock. Differences are huge! Converting carbon-rich lands such as rainforests, peatlands, savannas or grasslands to produce biofuels will increase CO2 emissions for decades or centuries, releasing 17 to 420 times more CO2 than the fossil fuels they replace. This does not account for ILUC
  • Lapola From the slide: Most significantly, ILUC would extend the carbon payback of soybeans by 211 years, for a total payback of 246 years. ILUC due to sugarcane production would be 40 years, and total payback time would be 44 years. This is the optimistic scenario – lower limit of probable impacts. Without increases in crop yields before 2020, Lapola predicts payback would increase to 62 years for sugarcane and 301 years for soybeans.
  • A case study: the EU policies.
  • Unaccounted emissions from biofuels - Presentation at UNFCCC Bonn Climate Talks 2011

    1. 1. Unaccounted emissions from biofuels Alex Kaat, UNFCCC SBSTA event June 9 2011
    2. 2. What makes biofuels attractive… <ul><li>UNFCCC as driving force: </li></ul><ul><li>No accounting for combustion </li></ul><ul><li>No mandatory accounting LULUCF An.1 </li></ul><ul><li>No accounting (indirect) LUC non An. 1 </li></ul><ul><li>Biofuel use: a result of </li></ul><ul><li>climate policies </li></ul><ul><li>that have ignored land use emissions </li></ul>
    3. 3. Land use under different scenarios <ul><li>Reference pathway (no serious climate policy) </li></ul>Adapted from: M Wise et al. Science May 2009;324:1183-86
    4. 4. Land use under different scenarios <ul><li>CO 2 emission target of 450 ppm </li></ul><ul><li>Policies address fossil and terrestrial emissions. </li></ul>Adapted from: M Wise et al. Science May 2009;324:1183-86
    5. 5. Land use under different scenarios <ul><li>Modeled scenario (theoretical). </li></ul><ul><li>CO 2 emission target of 450 ppm </li></ul><ul><li>Policies address fossil but not terrestrial emissions. </li></ul>Adapted from: M Wise et al. Science May 2009;324:1183-86
    6. 6. Land use emissions: very substantial Adapted from: J. Fargione et al. Science February 2008 ; 319: 1235-1238 
    7. 7. Indirect land use change: even worse Adapted from: Lapola D M et al. PNAS 2010;107:3388-3393 CO 2 payback time of total soybean mix due to expansion (Brazil): Direct (35 years) + Indirect (211 years) = 246 years
    8. 8. WI’s concern: widespread use peat soils Energy yield and emission factor of typical biomass fuel crops on peatsoil, compared to fossil fuels. Couwenberg 2007 . IMCG-newsletter 2007-3 p.12-15
    9. 9. Case: EU aims to meet GHG reduction <ul><li>Bio-energy: main climate strategy EU </li></ul><ul><li>Effort to prevent extremes in land use emissions </li></ul><ul><li>- Hope REDD will solve parts of it… - ILUC? </li></ul>
    10. 10. Environmental implications 2020 <ul><li>Studies commissioned by EU DG-Trade: </li></ul><ul><li>Large imports from non-Annex 1 in 2020 50% ethanol, 41% diesel </li></ul><ul><li>When also accounting ILUC: </li></ul><ul><li>Target higher than 5,6%: no GHG benefits </li></ul><ul><li>No fuel meets 50% reduction target </li></ul><ul><li>with ILUC 81-167% worse than fossil fuels  56 mln tonnes extra CO 2 (IEEP 2010) </li></ul>
    11. 11. EU- just small at global scale IEA BLUE Map Scenario, 50% reduction energy-related CO 2 emissions from 2005
    12. 12. Conclusions <ul><li>Biofuel expansion largely result of climate policies </li></ul><ul><li>Only limited expansion possible without negative environmental impacts </li></ul><ul><li>Not accounting LULUCF is disastrous. </li></ul>
    13. 13. What to do: option 1 <ul><li>Biofuel combustion remains zero emission </li></ul><ul><li>But all (land-use) emissions accounted </li></ul><ul><li>also non annex I; also LUC and ILUC </li></ul><ul><li>Negative sides: </li></ul><ul><li>Complicated </li></ul><ul><li>Complete new methodology; why only for biofuels? </li></ul>
    14. 14. What to do: Option 2 <ul><li>Biofuel combustion accounted; like fossil </li></ul><ul><li>Sequestration in feed stocks accounted (thus rewarded). </li></ul><ul><li>In the longer term, maybe the best system </li></ul><ul><li>Negative side: </li></ul><ul><li>Demands global accounting system </li></ul><ul><li>Why only for biofuels? </li></ul>
    15. 15. Options 3 <ul><li>No accounting combustion of bio-energy </li></ul><ul><li>Mandatory LULUCF accounting (all activities) </li></ul><ul><li>Standards to ban biofuels with huge LUC, ILUC and other emissions in non-Annex 1 </li></ul><ul><li>Possibly best for this moment… </li></ul><ul><li>Negative side: </li></ul><ul><li>Non-Annex 1 not accounted, only extremes excluded </li></ul><ul><li>Incentive to import from non-Annex 1 </li></ul><ul><li>Dependent on supply-chain certification system </li></ul>
    16. 16. <ul><li>Thank you </li></ul><ul><li>Alex Kaat </li></ul><ul><li>Wetlands International </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>

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