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Analysis Brussels, 25 March 2010

Biofuels and global trade study goes online

This page describes past events and is no longer updated.

"Global trade and environmental impact of the EU biofuels mandate" is the title of a study finalised by the International Food Policy Research Institute this 25 March 2010. The report is one of four studies commissioned by the European Commission in response to the Council and Parliament’s request to examine the indirect land use change effects of biofuels.

The Commission has decided to release this study immediately after its completion in order to ensure full transparency on this important dossier. The other three studies are still underway.

What does the study find?  

  • The report is positive on the emission reduction effects of first-generation biofuels, and on the environmental benefits of trade opening in biofuels.
  • Trade opening will further improve the emission reduction performance of the EU's biofuels policy, mainly because we would import considerably more emission-efficient sugarcane-based ethanol from Brazil.
  • The report shows that indirect land use change effects do indeed off-set part of the emission benefits.
  • However, that is not a threat to the environmental viability of the EU biofuels policy at the currently estimated volume of 5.6% of road transport fuels in 2020, necessary to meet the 10% renewable energy mandate by 2020.

As is common in this new field of enquiry the study's findings are subject to uncertainties because of gaps in available data and the lack of complete empirical validation. Nevertheless, this study makes progress towards a better understanding of the environmental and economic effects of biofuels and contributes to the Commission's decision making process on this topic.
 

The full report can be downloaded from the Chief Economist page on our website.