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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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Paper provided by Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management in its series Working Papers with number 126975.

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Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ags:cudawp:126975
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  1. 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.
  2. Holland, Stephen P & Knittel, Christopher R & Hughes, Jonathan E., 2008. "Greenhouse Gas Reductions under Low Carbon Fuel Standards?," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt0177r7xp, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
  3. 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.
  4. Brian C. Murray & Bruce A. McCarl & Heng-Chi Lee, 2004. "Estimating Leakage from Forest Carbon Sequestration Programs," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 20043, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics, revised Mar 2003.
  5. 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.
  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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