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Wood Bioenergy and Land Use: A Challenge to the Searchinger Hypothesis

Author

Listed:
  • Sedjo, Roger A.

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • Sohngen, Brent

    ()

  • Riddle, Anne

Abstract

A concern of many environmentalists is that the use of biomass energy will decimate the forests. Searchinger et al. (2008, 2009) examined this issue related to corn ethanol and suggested that substituting corn ethanol for petroleum would increase carbon emissions associated with the land conversion abroad necessary to offset the decline in corn availability. Associated with these concerns is the overall issue of climate change (IPCC 2006). This issue is broader than simply corn. If agricultural croplands are drawn into the production of biofuel feedstocks, commodity prices are expected to rise, triggering land conversions overseas, releasing carbon emissions, and offsetting the carbon reductions expected from bioenergy. Using a general stylized forest sector management model, our study examines the economic potential of traditional industrial forests and supplemental dedicated fuelwood plantations to produce biomass on submarginal lands. It finds that these sources can economically produce large levels of biomass without compromising crop production, thereby mitigating the land conversion and carbon emissions effects posited by the Searchinger Hypothesis.

Suggested Citation

  • Sedjo, Roger A. & Sohngen, Brent & Riddle, Anne, 2013. "Wood Bioenergy and Land Use: A Challenge to the Searchinger Hypothesis," Discussion Papers dp-13-33, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-13-33
    as

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    File URL: http://www.rff.org/RFF/documents/RFF-DP-13-33.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Searchinger, Timothy & Heimlich, Ralph & Houghton, R. A. & Dong, Fengxia & Elobeid, Amani & Fabiosa, Jacinto F. & Tokgoz, Simla & Hayes, Dermot J. & Yu, Hun-Hsiang, 2008. "Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land-Use Change," Staff General Research Papers Archive 12881, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    2. Brent Sohngen & Robert Mendelsohn & Roger Sedjo, 1999. "Forest Management, Conservation, and Global Timber Markets," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(1), pages 1-13.
    3. Aguilar, Francisco X. & Goerndt, Michael E. & Song, Nianfu & Shifley, Stephen, 2012. "Internal, external and location factors influencing cofiring of biomass with coal in the U.S. northern region," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 1790-1798.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    biomass; forests; fuelwood; land use; land conversion; wood biomass; bioenergy; carbon emissions; feedstock; Searchinger Hypothesis; climate change;

    JEL classification:

    • Q1 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture
    • Q16 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - R&D; Agricultural Technology; Biofuels; Agricultural Extension Services
    • Q23 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Forestry
    • Q24 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Land
    • 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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