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The Implications of Alternative Biofuel Policies on Carbon Leakage


  • Drabik, Dusan
  • de Gorter, Harry
  • Just, David R.


We show how leakage differs, depending on the biofuel policy and market conditions. Carbon leakage is shown to have two components: a market leakage effect and an emissions savings effect. We also distinguish domestic and international leakage. International leakage is always positive, but domestic leakage can be negative. The magnitude of market leakage depends on the domestic and foreign gasoline supply and fuel demand elasticities, and on consumption and production shares of world oil markets for the country introducing the biofuel policy. Being a small country in world oil markets does not automatically imply that leakage is 100 percent or above that of a large country. We show leakage due to a tax credit is always greater than that of a mandate, while the combination of a mandate and subsidy generates greater leakage than a mandate alone. In general, one gallon of ethanol is found to replace only 0.35 gallons of gasoline – not one gallon as assumed by life-cycle accounting. For the United States, this translates into one (gasoline-equivalent) gallon of ethanol emitting 1.13 times more carbon than a gallon of gasoline if indirect land use change (iLUC) is not included in the estimated emissions savings effect and 1.43 times more when iLUC is included.

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  • Drabik, Dusan & de Gorter, Harry & Just, David R., 2010. "The Implications of Alternative Biofuel Policies on Carbon Leakage," Working Papers 126975, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:cudawp:126975

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Brian C. Murray & Bruce A. McCarl & Heng-Chi Lee, 2004. "Estimating Leakage from Forest Carbon Sequestration Programs," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 80(1), pages 109-124.
    2. Harry de Gorter & David R. Just, 2008. "The Economics of a Blend Mandate for Biofuels," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(3), pages 738-750.
    3. Stephen P. Holland & Jonathan E. Hughes & Christopher R. Knittel, 2009. "Greenhouse Gas Reductions under Low Carbon Fuel Standards?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 106-146, February.
    4. Drabik, Dusan & de Gorter, Harry, 2010. "Biofuels And Leakages In The Fuel Market," Proceedings Issues, 2010: Climate Change in World Agriculture: Mitigation, Adaptation, Trade and Food Security, June 2010, Stuttgart- Hohenheim, Germany 91265, International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium.
    5. Harry de Gorter & David R. Just, 2007. "The Welfare Economics of a Biofuel Tax Credit and the Interaction Effects with Price Contingent Farm Subsidies," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(2), pages 477-488.
    6. R. Quentin Grafton & Tom Kompas & Ngo Van Long, 2010. "Biofuels Subsidies and the Green Paradox," CESifo Working Paper Series 2960, CESifo Group Munich.
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    Cited by:

    1. Abdul-Manan, Amir F.N., 2017. "Lifecycle GHG emissions of palm biodiesel: Unintended market effects negate direct benefits of the Malaysian Economic Transformation Plan (ETP)," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 56-65.
    2. Bilgili, Faik & Koçak, Emrah & Bulut, Ümit & Kuşkaya, Sevda, 2017. "Can biomass energy be an efficient policy tool for sustainable development?," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 830-845.
    3. de Gorter, Harry & Drabik, Dusan & Just, David R., 2011. "Modeling Carbon Leakages with Forestation Policies," 2011 International Congress, August 30-September 2, 2011, Zurich, Switzerland 114450, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    4. Janda, Karel & Kristoufek, Ladislav & Zilberman, David, 2011. "Biofuels: Review of Policies and Impacts," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt5v1112qr, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
    5. Ladislav Kristoufek & Karel Janda & David Zilberman, 2013. "Regime-dependent topological properties of biofuels networks," The European Physical Journal B: Condensed Matter and Complex Systems, Springer;EDP Sciences, vol. 86(2), pages 1-12, February.
    6. Oladosu, Gbadebo, 2012. "Estimates of the global indirect energy-use emission impacts of USA biofuel policy," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 85-96.
    7. Drabik, Dusan & de Gorter, Harry & Timilsina, Govinda R., 2016. "Producing biodiesel from soybeans in Zambia: An economic analysis," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 103-109.
    8. Drabik, Dusan, 2011. "The Theory of Biofuel Policy and Food Grain Prices," Working Papers 126615, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
    9. Bento, Antonio M. & Klotz, Richard & Landry, Joel R., 2011. "Are there Carbon Savings from US Biofuel Policies? Accounting for Leakage in Land and Fuel Markets," 2011 Annual Meeting, July 24-26, 2011, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 104008, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    10. Karel Janda & Ladislav Kristoufek & David Zilberman, 2011. "Modeling the Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts of Biofuels," Working Papers IES 2011/33, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, revised Oct 2011.
    11. de Gorter, Harry & Drabik, Dusan & Timilsina, Govinda R., 2013. "Should Zambia produce biodiesel from soybeans ? some insights from an empirical analysis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6498, The World Bank.

    More about this item


    biofuels; market leakage; indirect output use change; carbon leakage; emissions savings; domestic leakage; tax credit; mandate; Agricultural and Food Policy; Environmental Economics and Policy; Resource /Energy Economics and Policy; Q27; Q41; Q42; Q54;

    JEL classification:

    • Q27 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Issues in International Trade
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming


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