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Title: The social inefficiency of regulating indirect land use change due to biofuels

Abstract

Efforts to reduce the indirect land use change (ILUC) -related carbon emissions caused by biofuels has led to inclusion of an ILUC factor as a part of the carbon intensity of biofuels in a Low Carbon Fuel Standard. While previous research has provided varying estimates of this ILUC factor, there has been no research examining the economic effects and additional carbon savings from including this factor in implementing a Low Carbon Fuel Standard. In this article we show that inclusion of an ILUC factor in a national Low Carbon Fuel Standard led to additional abatement of cumulative emissions over 2007–2027 by 1.3 to 2.6% (0.6–1.1 billion mega-grams carbon-dioxide-equivalent (Mg CO 2e -1) compared to those without an ILUC factor, depending on the ILUC factors utilized. The welfare cost to the US of this additional abatement ranged from 61 dollars to 187 dollars Mg CO 2e -1 and was substantially greater than the social cost of carbon of $50 Mg CO 2e -1.

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3];  [4]
  1. Univ. of Illinois, Urbana, IL (United States). Inst. for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment and Dept. of Agricultural and Consumer Economics
  2. Univ. of Illinois, Urbana, IL (United States). Dept. of Agricultural and Consumer Economics
  3. Univ. of Idaho, Moscow, ID (United States). Dept. of Forest, Rangeland, and Fire Sciences
  4. Univ. of Illinois, Urbana, IL (United States). Inst. for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment and Dept. of Plant Biology
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
South Dakota State Univ., Brookings, SD (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Bioenergy Technologies Office (EE-3B); Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA (United States); Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL (United States); National Science Foundation (NSF)
OSTI Identifier:
1425823
Grant/Contract Number:
FG36-08GO88073; IIA-1301792
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 8; Journal Issue: 2017; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
58 GEOSCIENCES; 09 BIOMASS FUELS; Biogeochemistry; Environmental economics

Citation Formats

Khanna, Madhu, Wang, Weiwei, Hudiburg, Tara W., and DeLucia, Evan H. The social inefficiency of regulating indirect land use change due to biofuels. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1038/ncomms15513.
Khanna, Madhu, Wang, Weiwei, Hudiburg, Tara W., & DeLucia, Evan H. The social inefficiency of regulating indirect land use change due to biofuels. United States. doi:10.1038/ncomms15513.
Khanna, Madhu, Wang, Weiwei, Hudiburg, Tara W., and DeLucia, Evan H. Mon . "The social inefficiency of regulating indirect land use change due to biofuels". United States. doi:10.1038/ncomms15513. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1425823.
@article{osti_1425823,
title = {The social inefficiency of regulating indirect land use change due to biofuels},
author = {Khanna, Madhu and Wang, Weiwei and Hudiburg, Tara W. and DeLucia, Evan H.},
abstractNote = {Efforts to reduce the indirect land use change (ILUC) -related carbon emissions caused by biofuels has led to inclusion of an ILUC factor as a part of the carbon intensity of biofuels in a Low Carbon Fuel Standard. While previous research has provided varying estimates of this ILUC factor, there has been no research examining the economic effects and additional carbon savings from including this factor in implementing a Low Carbon Fuel Standard. In this article we show that inclusion of an ILUC factor in a national Low Carbon Fuel Standard led to additional abatement of cumulative emissions over 2007–2027 by 1.3 to 2.6% (0.6–1.1 billion mega-grams carbon-dioxide-equivalent (Mg CO2e-1) compared to those without an ILUC factor, depending on the ILUC factors utilized. The welfare cost to the US of this additional abatement ranged from 61 dollars to 187 dollars Mg CO2e-1 and was substantially greater than the social cost of carbon of $50 Mg CO2e-1.},
doi = {10.1038/ncomms15513},
journal = {Nature Communications},
number = 2017,
volume = 8,
place = {United States},
year = {Mon Jun 26 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Mon Jun 26 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
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Cited by: 1work
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  • IN THEIR REPORTS IN THE 29 FEBRUARY ISSUE ('LAND CLEARING AND THE BIOFUEL CARBON debt,' J. Fargione et al., p. 1235, and 'Use of U.S. croplands for biofuels increases greenhouse gases through emissions from land-use change,' T. Searchinger et al., p. 1238), the authors do not provide adequate support for their claim that biofuels cause high emissions due to land-use change. The conclusions of both papers depend on the misleading premise that biofuel production causes forests and grasslands to be converted to agriculture. However, field research, including a meta-analysis of 152 case studies, consistently finds that land-use change and associatedmore » carbon emissions are driven by interactions among cultural, technological, biophysical, political, economic, and demographic forces within a spatial and temporal context rather than by a single crop market. Searchinger et al. assert that soybean prices accelerate clearing of rainforest based on a single citation for a study not designed to identify the causal factors of land clearing. The study analyzed satellite imagery from a single state in Brazil over a 4-year period and focused on land classification after deforestation. Satellite imagery can measure what changed but does little to tell us why. Similarly, Fargione et al. do not rely on primary empirical studies of causes of land-use change. Furthermore, neither fire nor soil carbon sequestration was properly considered in the Reports. Fire's escalating contribution to global climate change is largely a result of burning in tropical savannas and forests. Searchinger et al. postulate that 10.8 million hectares could be needed for future biofuel, a fraction of the 250 to 400 million hectares burned each year between 2000 and 2005. By offering enhanced employment and incomes, biofuels can help establish economic stability and thus reduce the recurring use of fire on previously cleared land as well as pressures to clear more land. Neither Searchinger et al. nor Fargione et al. consider fire as an ongoing land-management tool. In addition, deep-rooted perennial biofuel feedstocks in the tropics could enhance soil carbon storage by 0.5 to 1 metric ton per hectare per year. An improved understanding of the forces behind land-use change leads to more favorable conclusions regarding the potential for biofuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.« less
  • Vigorous debate on the effects of biofuels derives largely from the changes in land use estimated using economic models designed mainly for the analysis of agricultural trade and markets. The models referenced for land-use change (LUC) analysis in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Final Rule on the Renewable Fuel Standard include GTAP, FAPRI-CARD, and FASOM. To address bioenergy impacts, these models were expanded and modified to facilitate simulations of hypothesized LUC. However, even when models use similar basic assumptions and data, the range of LUC results can vary by ten-fold or more. While the market dynamics simulated in these modelsmore » include processes that are important in estimating effects of biofuel policies, the models have not been validated for estimating land-use changes and employ crucial assumptions and simplifications that contradict empirical evidence.« less