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Biofuels and climate change mitigation : a CGE analysis incorporating land-use change

  • Timilsina , Govinda R.
  • Mevel, Simon

The question of whether biofuels help mitigate climate change has attracted much debate in the literature. Using a global computable general equilibrium model that explicitly represents land-use change impacts due to the expansion of biofuels, this study attempts to shed some light on this question. The study shows that if biofuel mandates and targets currently announced by more than 40 countries around the world are implemented by 2020 using crop feedstocks, and if both forests and pasture lands are used to meet the new land demands for biofuel expansion, this would cause a net increase of greenhouse gas emissions released to the atmosphere until 2043, since the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions released through land-use change would exceed the reduction of emissions due to replacement of gasoline and diesel until then. However, if the use of forest lands is avoided by channeling only pasture lands to meet the demand for new lands, a net increase of cumulative greenhouse gas emissions would occur but would cease by 2021, only a year after the assumed full implementation of the mandates and targets. The study also shows, contrary to common perceptions, that the rate of deforestation does not increase with the rate of biofuel expansion; instead, the marginal rate of deforestation and corresponding land-use emissions decrease even if the production of biofuels increases.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5672.

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Date of creation: 01 Jun 2011
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5672
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  1. Timilsina, Govinda R. & Beghin, John C. & van der Mensbrugghe, Dominique & Mevel, Simon, 2010. "The impacts of biofuel targets on land-use change and food supply : a global CGE assessment," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5513, The World Bank.
  2. 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 12881, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  3. Martin Banse & Hans van Meijl & Andrzej Tabeau & Geert Woltjer, 2008. "Will EU biofuel policies affect global agricultural markets?," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 35(2), pages 117-141, June.
  4. Goldemberg, José & Coelho, Suani Teixeira & Guardabassi, Patricia, 2008. "The sustainability of ethanol production from sugarcane," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 2086-2097, June.
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