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Modeling the global trade and environmental impacts of biofuel policies


  • Bouët, Antoine
  • Dimaranan, Betina V.
  • Valin, Hugo


There is rising skepticism about the potential positive environmental impacts of first generation biofuels. Growing biofuel crops could induce diversion of other crops dedicated to food and feed needs. The relocation of production could increase deforestation and bring significant new volumes of carbon into the atmosphere. In this paper, we develop a methodology for assessing the indirect land use change effects related to biofuel policies in a computable general equilibrium framework. We rely on the trade policy model MIRAGE and on the GTAP 7 database, both of which have been modified and improved to explicitly capture the role of different types of biofuel feedstock crops, energy demand and substitution, and carbon emissions. Land use changes are represented at the level of agroecological zones in a dynamic framework using land substitution with nesting of constant elasticity of transformation functions and a land supply module that takes into account the effects of economic land expansion. In this integrated global approach, we capture the environmental cost of different land conversions due to biofuels in the carbon budget, taking into account both direct and indirect carbon dioxide emissions related to land use change. We apply this methodology to look at the impacts of biofuel (ethanol) policies for transportation in the United States and in the European Union with and without ethanol trade liberalization. We find that emissions released because of ethanol programs significantly worsen the total carbon balance of biofuel policies. Ethanol trade liberalization benefits are ambiguous and depend highly on the parameters governing land use change, particularly in Brazil. We conclude by pointing out the critical aspects that have to be refined in order to improve our understanding of the environmental implications of biofuel development.

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  • Bouët, Antoine & Dimaranan, Betina V. & Valin, Hugo, 2010. "Modeling the global trade and environmental impacts of biofuel policies," IFPRI discussion papers 1018, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:ifprid:1018

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Dimaranan, Betina V. & Laborde, David, 2012. "Ethanol Trade Policy and Global Biofuel Mandates," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 126869, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    2. Piroli, Giuseppe & Rajcaniova, Miroslava & Ciaian, Pavel & Kancs, d׳Artis, 2015. "From a rise in B to a fall in C? SVAR analysis of environmental impact of biofuels," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 921-930.
    3. Bureau, Jean-Christophe & Treguer, David & Valin, Hugo, 2010. "Biofuel Programs And Farm Support: New Tools For Old Policies?," 14th ICABR Conference, June 16-18, 2010, Ravello, Italy 188081, International Consortium on Applied Bioeconomy Research (ICABR).
    4. Kim, In Seck & Binfield, Julian & Patton, Myles & Zhang, Lichun & Moss, Joan, 2013. "Impact of increasing liquid biofuel usage on EU and UK agriculture," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 59-69.
    5. Santamaría, Marta & Azqueta, Diego, 2015. "Promoting biofuels use in Spain: A cost-benefit analysis," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 1415-1424.
    6. Ferede, Tadele & Gebreegziabher, Zenebe & Mekonnen, Alemu & Guta, Fantu & Levin, Jörgen & Köhlin, Gunnar, 2013. "Biofuels, Economic Growth, and the External Sector in Ethiopia: A Computable General Equilibrium Analysis," Discussion Papers dp-13-08-efd, Resources For the Future.
    7. Louhichi, Kamel, 2012. "Impact of EU biofuel policies on the French arable sector: A micro-level analysis using global market and farm-based supply models," Revue d'Etudes en Agriculture et Environnement, Editions NecPlus, vol. 93(03), pages 233-272, September.
    8. Mochizuki, Junko & Coffman, Makena & Yanagida, John F., 2015. "Market, welfare and land-use implications of lignocellulosic bioethanol in Hawai'i," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 102-114.
    9. Calzadilla, Alvaro & Delzeit, Ruth & Klepper, Gernot, 2014. "DART-BIO: Modelling the interplay of food, feed and fuels in a global CGE model," Kiel Working Papers 1896, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    10. Lindsay Shutes & Marijke Kuiper, 2015. "Expanding the household coverage of global simulation models: an application to Ghana," FOODSECURE Technical papers 3, LEI Wageningen UR.
    11. Kay, Adrian & Ackrill, Rob, 2012. "Policy capacity for the transition to a biofuels economy: a comparative study of the EU and USA," 86th Annual Conference, April 16-18, 2012, Warwick University, Coventry, UK 135122, Agricultural Economics Society.
    12. Dandres, Thomas & Gaudreault, Caroline & Seco, Pablo Tirado & Samson, Réjean, 2014. "Uncertainty management in a macro life cycle assessment of a 2005–2025 European bioenergy policy," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 52-61.
    13. Mirzabaev, Alisher & Guta, Dawit & Goedecke, Jann & Gaur, Varun & Börner, Jan & Virchow, Detlef & Denich, Manfred & von Braun, Joachim, 2014. "Bioenergy, Food Security and Poverty Reduction: Mitigating tradeoffs and promoting synergies along the Water- Energy-Food Security Nexus," Working Papers 180421, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
    14. Oladosu, Gbadebo & Kline, Keith, 2013. "A dynamic simulation of the ILUC effects of biofuel use in the USA," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 1127-1139.
    15. Junko Mochizuki & John F. Yanagida & Makena Coffman, 2013. "Market, Welfare and Land-Use Implications of Lignocellulosic Bioethanol in HawaiÔi," Working Papers 2013-10, University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

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    Biofuels; indirect land use change; trade liberalization;

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