Struggling to deal with uncertainties. What is known about indirect land-use change?

12-11-2014 | Publication

The efforts that are required in order to mitigate indirect land-use change (ILUC) and achieve a considerable reduction in emissions from biofuels crops, compared to the fossil-fuel alternative, cannot be taken for granted. Given the importance of the amount of product needed to comply with the biofuel mandate that requires a certain mitigation effort, the cap on the use of food crops as set under the Renewable Energy and the Fuel Quality Directives seems to be an appropriate way to limit the risk of emissions from indirect landuse change.

Modelling approaches that determine the indirect impacts of biofuel policies show a wide range of results. This can be traced back to the uncertainty on a range of assumptions. It is not realistic to assume that these uncertainties will be reduced to the point where the ILUC emission factors could be used for policy-making, in the short term. The efforts required to mitigate ILUC to a certain level are presented in this report, given a range of uncertainties. For the amount of biofuels needed to reach the current blending target and a maximum level of ILUC emissions of 21 gram CO2/megajoule, the results indicate that attention must be paid to the efforts in yield increase or consumption diversion.