The European Renewable Ethanol Association (ePURE) is celebrating the findings of a UN IPCC report “Bioenergy and climate change mitigation: an assessment,” which underscores the positive impact bioenergy is having on society.
The finding was released earlier today as part of the IPCC 5th Assessment Report.
The report concludes by saying that while more research is needed to realise the full potential of bioenergy, existing uncertainties about the resources should not preclude the pursuit of its benefits.
The publication of the IPCC report comes as the EU considers the future of the EU biofuels policy within its future climate and energy policy framework up to 2030. EU policy-makers must not ignore the benefits offered by sustainable biofuels because EU transport emissions have risen by 36 percent since 1990 levels and are now responsible for 26 percent of Europe’s total GHG emissions.
Sustainable biofuels are the only cost-effective tool that is available in the short-medium term to reduce these transport emissions. Currently EU-produced ethanol reduces GHG emissions by up to 90 percent compared to fossil fuels, and still saves significant GHG emissions even when scientifically unreliable ILUC emissions are accounted.
The IPCC report finds that estimated ILUC emissions are “highly uncertain, unobservable, unverifiable, and dependent on assumed policy, economic contexts, and inputs used in the modeling”. T
he report confirms that measures to address ILUC must incorporate the impacts of ILUC prevention or mitigation strategies, including the impact of forest protection measures, policies and investments to improve agricultural productivity, double cropping, and the use of degraded and marginal lands.
The report also crucially recognizes that land use emissions can be reduced through animal feed co-products of biofuels that substitute the need for protein crops imports for animal feed production. These nuances are unfortunately missing from the current debate about ILUC in Europe.
The IPCC’s findings are in line with a report published in 2013 by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) which suggested that the use of animal feed co-products from EU biofuels production reduces global land use by about 3 million hectares, an area the size of Belgium, due to the yields of biofuel crops grown in the EU being substantially higher than those of soybean in South America.
The FAO report found that these biofuel co-products generate substantial GHG savings by reducing land use change, due to soybean meal displacement. In 2013 EU-produced ethanol co-produced enough animal feed to free up nearly 1 million hectares of agricultural land outside of Europe.
In light of all this good news for the sector, Rob Vierhout, Secretary General of ePURE said, "Europe must address its transport emissions if it is to be serious about being a climate leader.
"Sustainable biofuels, such as EU-produced ethanol, are a low hanging fruit in the fight against climate change and must be supported through long term and ambitious decarbonisation policies for transport”, Vierhout said.