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Title: Reducing the negative human-health impacts of bioenergy crop emissions through region-specific crop selection

An expected global increase in bioenergy-crop cultivation as an alternative to fossil fuels will have consequences on both global climate and local air quality through changes in biogenic emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). While greenhouse gas emissions may be reduced through the substitution of next-generation bioenergy crops such as eucalyptus, giant reed, and switchgrass for fossil fuels, the choice of species has important ramifications for human health, potentially reducing the benefits of conversion due to increases in ozone (O₃) and fine particulate matter (PM₂̣₅) levels as a result of large changes in biogenic emissions. Using the Community Earth System Model we simulate the conversion of marginal and underutilized croplands worldwide to bioenergy crops under varying future anthropogenic emissions scenarios. A conservative global replacement using high VOC-emitting crop profiles leads to modeled population-weighted O₃ increases of 5–27 ppb in India, 1–9 ppb in China, and 1–6 ppb in the United States, with peak PM₂̣₅ increases of up to 2 μgm⁻³. We present a metric for the regional evaluation of candidate bioenergy crops, as well as results for the application of this metric to four representative emissions profiles using four replacement scales (10–100% maximum estimated available land). Finally, we assess themore » total health and climate impacts of biogenic emissions, finding that the negative consequences of using high-emitting crops could exceed 50% of the positive benefits of reduced fossil fuel emissions in value.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [2]
  1. Portland State Univ., Portland, OR (United States); MIT (Massachusetts Inst. of Technology), Cambridge, MA (United States)
  2. Portland State Univ., Portland, OR (United States)
  3. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
  4. National Center fo Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Environmental Research Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 10; Journal Issue: 5; Journal ID: ISSN 1748-9326
IOP Publishing
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
09 BIOMASS FUELS; bioenergy; air quality; climate change
OSTI Identifier: