Error Overestimates Biofuel Savings

EU double counted biofuel carbon savings

Canola field, Germany

Canola field, Germany     Photo: sethschoen/Flickr

A group of researchers at European Environment Agency Scientific Committee has released a preliminary report suggesting that the European Union has double counted the carbon savings of biofuels, potentially inviting a worldwide reevaluation of biofuels' environmental promise. Calculations under the old model led researchers to believe that the net carbon footprint of plant-based fuels was neutral or even negative, as biofuels release only carbon that they have already absorbed from the atmosphere. But in a report due early next month, the committee said those estimates failed to consider the carbon storage capacity that is lost when trees and grassland are cleared to make way for biofuel crops. "It may take decades for this carbon absorption (which offsets emissions) to catch up to the lost carbon storage and forgone carbon sequestration of the forest.” The previous calculations have been used to guide environmental policy in countries around world. "I think there's still a role for bioenergy, but maybe a little bit less positive than it is now," one of the report's authors said.

Read more at Reuters

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