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Identifying the indirect effects of bio-energy production

Rapport | 18-02-2010
Photo of field with yellow rapeseed flowers

Bio-energy has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Indirect effects might partly or even completely undo this advantage. Indirect land use change (ILUC) – leading to emissions and loss of nature – is an important example, but there are other indirect effects, as well.

Indirect effects of bio-energy worrisome

Indirect greenhouse gas emissions

Bio-energy has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Indirect effects might partly or even completely undo this advantage. Production and consumption of bio-energy products, such as biofuels for transport, cause several indirect effects through their interactions with the global economic and physical systems. Indirect land use change, leading to emissions and loss of nature, is an important example, but there are other indirect effects as well. Intensification of agricultural production, in general, is a way to minimise undesirable land conversion. However, intensification through increased fertiliser use can also lead to high GHG emissions. The focus of intensification should be on improving the efficiency in fertiliser use.

Indirect effects and sustainability criteria

The direct effects of bio-energy are measurable and they are the responsibility of the producers. Indirect effects are less easy to quantify and more difficult to ascribe to producers or consumers, because they occur beyond their control. Therefore, in contrast to many direct effects, indirect effects are not included in present sustainability criteria of EU policy. Including indirect effects in these criteria is complicated, because these effects – as opposed to direct effects – vary in space and time, due to the dynamic character of global systems.

More information on indirect effects

Bibliografie
Auteur(s)Ros JPM ; Overmars KP ; Stehfest E ; Prins AG ; Notenboom J ; Oorschot M van
Rapportnr.500143003
Publicatiedatum18-02-2010
Pagina's10
TaalEnglish