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Biofuels

Linking Support to Performance

image of Biofuels

Biofuels received USD 15 billion in subsidies in OECD Member countries in 2007, but did they deliver benefits in terms of climate change or oil security? Present policies make no link between support for biofuels and their environmental performance, and biofuels do not all perform equally well. In fact, much of the current ethanol and biodiesel production may result in higher overall emissions of greenhouse gases than using conventional transport fuels - gasoline and diesel. The papers published in this report examine the economics of biofuels and assess the potential of conventional biofuel production in OECD countries, Brazilian ethanol exports and some second generation biofuels to supply world markets with transport fuels.

This Round Table analyses the critical issues for governments in determining support for biofuels, particularly the level of greenhouse gas emissions throughout the life-cycle of these fuels and the wider environmental impacts of farming biomass. It also reviews recent progress in developing certification systems for biofuels – an essential  tool for tying support  to achievement in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, although certification cannot be expected to prevent rainforest destruction for the  development of  biofuel crop plantations. The report concludes with a short list of recommendations for policy reform if support for biofuels is to contribute effectively to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

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Energy and greenhouse impacts of biofuels

A framework for analysis

International Transport Forum

In this paper, we review some of the basic energy balance and climate change impact issues associated with biofuels. For both the basic energy and greenhouse gas balances of producing and using a range of fuels, and for the increasingly debated and important issues of non-greenhouse gas impacts, such as land, fertilizer and water use, we conclude that an improved framework for the analysis and evaluation of biofuels is needed. These new methodologies and data sets are needed on both the physical and socioeconomic aspects of the life-cycle of biofuels. We detail some of the components that could be used to build this methodology and highlight key areas for future research. We look at the history and potential impacts of building the resource base for biofuel research, as well as at some of the land-use and socioeconomic impacts of different feedstock-to-fuel pathways.

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