EC Commissioned Study Finds Increased ILUC As A Result Of EU 2020 Goals

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Courtesy of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

On March 11, 2016, a consortium made up of Ecofys, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), and E4tech announced that the final report on the Land Use Change (LUC) study is now available online. The study was commissioned and funded by the European Commission (EC) and was focused on using the GLOBIOM model to determine ILUC associated with the ten percent renewable energy use target for transportation mandated by the European Union's (EU) 2020 goals. The report, The land use change impact of biofuels consumed in the EU, determined LUC emissions results as well as total LUC caused by the EU 2020 biofuel mandate. Total LUC was determined to be 8.8 million hectares (Mha), with 8 Mha consisting of new cropland, and 0.8 Mha made up of short rotation plantations on existing cropland. LUC emissions were tested by scenario and divided by biomass and biofuel type. Conventional biodiesel feedstocks were found to have high LUC effects, with conventional ethanol feedstocks having lower LUC emissions, and advanced biofuels produced from short rotation crops or perennials having negative LUC emissions.

The credibility of the study has been questioned by several parties, including the EC itself. The European Biodiesel Board (EBB) stated that the study is based on 'a model which has still not been disclosed nor validated by peers,' resulting in reservations of the scientific reliability of the research. The California Air Resources Board had previously tested Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) values for biodiesel in an open and peer-reviewed process, and found values four to five times lower than those found in the EU study. This disparity has lead to the EBB and the EC stating that a 'scientific peer review of the [Ecofys] study would be desirable' and that 'if the model structure cannot fully be disclosed, such a review cannot meet the quality standards set by academic rules.' The project has been completed, but feedback and comments will be collected at ILUC@ecofys.com.

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