Summary: Since January 2008,international institutions, national technical agencies, and major
international scientic organizations
have released ten major reviews of
biofuel policies. This brief summariz
-es their conclusions, which include:
World land use competitionmeans liquid biofuels are onlycapable of making a limitedcontribution to world energysupplies and greenhouse gasreductions.
Direct and indirect land use changedue to biofuels has a high potential to eliminate or greatly reduce theirgreenhouse gas benefits.
Biofuels have contributed signi-
cantly to crop price increases andfood insecurity in the last few years.
Relying on biofuels grown ondedicated land is
mainly likely to spur biofuel production andcreate rural jobs outside of Europe where production of feedstocks is cheaper.
Biomass is more efciently used
for energy and greenhousegas reductions in electricityproduction than biofuels.
Large biofuel mandates shouldbe reconsidered.
Economic Policy Program
Since January 2008, international and Euro-pean technical institutions have released tenmajor reviews o biouels policies. Withinthe European Union governance structure,the European Economic and SocialCommittee, the Joint Research Committeeo the European Commission, and theScience Advisory Board o the EuropeanEnvironment Agency have released reportsor opinions. International reports havecome rom the UN Food and AgricultureOrganization, the World Bank, theOrganisation or Economic Developmentand Co-operation (OECD), and the Inter-national Energy Agency. National technicalreviews have come rom the NetherlandsEnvironmental Assessment Agency, theU.K.’s Renewable Fuels Agency (the “Galla-gher Report”), and the British Royal Society.This brie summarizes the conclusions o these ten reports, ocusing in particular ontheir ndings o environmental advantagesand disadvantages, land use eects, andeconomics. Although the reports do notentirely overlap, they show a high level o agreement and repeatedly oer the ollow-ing ndings:
World land use competition meansliquid biouels are only capable o making a limited contribution toworld energy supplies and greenhousegas reductions. The most potentially optimistic view presented in the tenreports, which is presented by theInternational Energy Agency, orecastsliquid biouels primarily as a long-termenergy source or airplanes, ships andheavy trucks i major increases in worldagricultural yields ree up hundreds o millions o hectares o agricultural land.
Mandates and subsidies to producebiouels are signicantly more expensivemethods than other methods o reducinggreenhouse gas emissions and use o ossil uels even i greenhouse gascalculations ignore land use change.
I developed careully, biouels holdout promise or economic developmentin the developing world, with particularbenets as a replacement or existingenergy uses o wood.
Direct and indirect land use changesdue to biouels have high potential toeliminate or greatly reduce greenhousegas benets. Estimates o indirect landuse change need to be incorporatedinto greenhouse gas accounting to gainan accurate understanding o the greenhouse gas benets o biouels. Usingwastes, residues, and degraded landprovide the best opportunities orenvironmentally sustainable biouels.
Summaries of Analyses in 2008 of BiofuelsPolicies by International and EuropeanTechnical Agencies
by Tim Searchinger, Transatlantic Fellow, The German Marshall Fundof the United States
1744 R Street NWWashington, DC 20009T 1 202 745 3950F 1 202 265 1662E email@example.com
Tim Searchinger (firstname.lastname@example.org) is also a research scholar and lecturer at Princeton University.