EU member states ILUC workshop

Life-cycle analyses

On 20 September 2010, the ICCT held a workshop for European national officials in Brussels on the EU Commission’s ongoing indirect land use change consultation. The consultation is asking whether the issue of indirect land use change needs to be addressed in European legislation, and how this could be done. The workshop was attended by the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Hungary, Spain and (EEA member) Norway. There were also representatives from the European Commission Directorates General for Energy and for Climate Action, as well as the EU’s Joint Research Centre, the International Food Policy Research Institute and Ecofys.

The question of whether biofuels will cause indirect land use change occurs because a biofuel mandate increases overall demand for some agricultural feedstocks. The introduction of a biofuel mandate must result in some combination of reduced consumption in other sectors, increased production of biofuel feedstocks and changes to consumption patterns due to increased availability of co-products.

If part of the response to European biofuels policy will be an increase in feedstock production, this could include bringing additional land into agricultural production – and this will normally result in some level of carbon emissions. In some cases, the change in land carbon stock when moving from its current status to cultivation may be relatively low. In other cases, however, the change in carbon stock could be very significant – notably when forest or peatland is converted, but also in the case of some grassland biomes. These are the questions that the EU Commission report will aim to address.

Chris Malins