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BIOFUELS, BIODIVERSITY AND ENERGY SECURITY: What are the environmental and social impacts? Jeffrey A. McNeely Chief Scientist IUCN-The International for.

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Presentation on theme: "BIOFUELS, BIODIVERSITY AND ENERGY SECURITY: What are the environmental and social impacts? Jeffrey A. McNeely Chief Scientist IUCN-The International for."— Presentation transcript:

1 BIOFUELS, BIODIVERSITY AND ENERGY SECURITY: What are the environmental and social impacts? Jeffrey A. McNeely Chief Scientist IUCN-The International for Conservation of Nature Presented to SCOPE Conference on Biofuels Gummersbach, Germany 22 September 2008

2 Converting food crops into biofuel “is a crime against humanity.” Jean Zeigler, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, October 2007

3 2007: Proble ms with oil supply becam e drama tic Energy security

4 “Let’s face it. It’s all about olive oil.”

5 Energy prices



8 And of course the threat of climate change

9 This Ferrari F430 runs on biofuel

10 A post-petroleum future?

11 How will the poor adapt to more expensive oil?

12 An iPod still needs energy

13 But another concern is rural livelihoods. What does bioenergy mean for farmers?


15 Domestic use of roundwood for fuel: 98% in Lebanon 66% in Jordan 44% in Turkey Nepal: 90% of energy comes from fuelwood Globally, 2 billion people rely on traditional biomass fuels.

16 Our modern societies are dependent on high energy use

17 “Can you believe it? Since we installed our wood-burning stove we’ve spent next to nothing on heating oil.”




21 What about alternative sources of oil?

22 Alberta’s tar sands contain billions of barrels of oil, but current yield is only 1 million barrels per day and requires 3-10 barrels of water for each barrel of oil. Maximum possible production: 3 million barrels per day

23 Coal remains a major source of energy

24 We need to look at all the options Source: International Energy Agency


26 Alternatives to oil: Human power

27 Bicycles played a critical role in the Viet Nam war


29 Alternatives to Oil: Biomass

30 30 Biofuel yields of selected first generation ethanol and biodiesel feedstock (l not c)

31 Some market information…   Biofuel market development during the last 5 years: now ~3% global gasoline consumption   Biofuels may share ~10% of world fuel use for transport by 2025   Less than 10% of global biofuels production is internationally traded   But important expansion in global trade: key consumers (EU, US, and Japan) will not have the domestic capacity to meet internal demand

32 Biodiesel Produced from seeds such as palm, jatropha, canola, sunflower and soy

33 Rail line between Mumbai and Delhi is planted with Jatropha and the trains run on 15-20% biodiesel


35 Dangers of Jatropha   Highly invasive   Useless for food or fodder   Requires water and fertilizer   Requires processing facilities


37 2000-2005, Indonesia planted 1.6 million ha of oil palm, with US$110 million in government subsidies. 9.8 million ha of forest were lost.

38 38 Forest growing on peat soils in Indonesia are burned to make way for oil palm plantations Releasing more carbon than will ever be stored by the palms



41 Some of the diesel fuel from Indonesian oil palm went to feed this truck


43 World fuel ethanol production


45 In Brazil, sugarcane fields lose up to 30 tons of topsoil per ha per year Burning of sugarcane fields before harvesting emits carbon Sugarcane produces the most ethanol per hectare One million jobs, mostly low-paying How can smallholders work with large processors?



48 Using US maize to produce ethanol increased tortilla price in Mexico

49 The cost of producing Beer in Germany is increasing, as farmers turn from growing barley to growing biofuels

50 The European Commissioner for Agriculture cancelled subsidies for set-asides in 2008, because of demand for biofuels. The EU has mandated that biofuel must provide 5.6% of transport energy by 2010. Policy may have gotten ahead of science

51 Status of British Birds

52 “Second generation” biofuels produced from agricultural waste, wood and grasses

53 This…. …or this?


55 Iogen Iogen has been producing cellulosic biofuels since 2004. 2008 production: 80 million litres

56 And what about the small farmer?

57 Colorado’s Solix Biofuels harvests algae with a field of bioreactors that take a kind of painter’s dropcloth to bubble CO through its system “Third generation” biofuels?

58 Marine algae: 10 times the oil content of oil palm (Botryococcus braunii produce 75% of their dry weight as hydrocarbons)

59 On energy the answer is easy

60 Potential Reductions in GHG Emissions by Feedstock Type On climate, it’s also clear what is the best feedstock

61 Social justice raises more difficult issues

62 Some key complexities of bioenergy remain   Diverse components: Feedstock supply, conversion technology, and energy use   Diverse economic, social, and environmental factors   Diverse scales, from local to international   Diverse objectives, from energy autonomy at the local level to serving international markets What should be the basis for the necessary trade-offs?

63 Three main systems of biomass production for energy System 1. Small-holder production for local use System 2. Small-holder production with commerical processing System 3. Medium- and large-scale commercial production

64 System 1. A multifunctional landscape with bioenergy potential

65 System 2. Canola in France is often sold commercially by smallholders

66 Enkoping, Sweden: First European town powered by bioenergy

67 System 3. Maize and sugarcane are often grown commercially for external markets

68 The US has 113 ethanol distilleries and 77 more are under construction. Potential capacity: Over 44 billion liters (about 5% of US fuel consumption) “Business Advisory: 16 Ethanol Plants Filing Bankruptcy, Many More to Come” DTN 20 June 2008.

69 (Source: Milder et al., 2008)

70   Gain clear understanding of economic, environmental and social impacts of bioenergy production & trade before making policy   Be guided by risk assessment of comparative advantages, land availability and food security impacts   Encourage investment on better environmental technologies and practices for all renewable sources of energy   Do not expect biomass to be a main source of energy – conservation often remains the most cost-effective option   Use overall land use plans as the basis for planning bioenergy production at the landscape scale Some recommendations

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