Study of Global Land Use Change from US Biofuel Policies
Policy Options to Address Global Land Use Change from BiofuelsOil Palm Expansion on Deforested Land in the Amazon
The use of biofuels leads to global land use change (LUC) through increased land competition. LUC poses risks such as increased greenhouse gas emissions and food prices. The magnitude of the risk is uncertain, but could be significant. Policymakers must balance the risk against biofuel objectives. This paper examines policy approaches to lower LUC risk from biofuels. We propose a three-pronged policy approach: (1) promoting feedstocks that rely less on land; (2) reducing LUC risk for land-using feedstocks; and (3) stimulating investments that increase land productivity and environmental protection. To realize these three strategies, we recommend that policymakers distinguish among feedstocks based on LUC risk; explore certifying production that avoids land competition; and adopt policy mechanisms that encourage investments in LUC-prone areas. We favor using feedstock-specific LUC emissions estimates, despite relatively large scientific uncertainty about emissions. Point estimates can be selected from science-based ranges to reflect policy decisions on LUC risk. They give LUC policy a transparent basis in emissions, and integrate easily with existing policies. Additional incentive mechanisms can provide common ground between policies with and without LUC emissions point estimates. We emphasize the need for systematic evaluation frameworks and intensified research to rigorously assess options and implementation.
The goal of this project is to identify the areas with the highest potential for land use change due to palm oil expansion. Although the Brazilian government proposed palm oil expansion only on deforested lands, scientists are skeptical because of the government’s lack of enforcement of policies regarding land preservation and illegal logging. Therefore this project focuses on examining the potential oil palm expansion onto environmentally sensitive lands (preserved, conservation areas, legal reserves) . Our study will focus in Para, Brazil as the majority of the palm oil expansion is expected to take place in this region.
We show the map of the environmentally sensitive areas overlaid with road buffers and areas of expected oil palm expansion. Note that the majority of the maps are from the year 2000. Since then there has been over 50,000km of forest land cleared from 2000-2009 in Pará, mostly in the eastern portion of the state. Also, the road map does not include unpaved (ie. dirt) roads. This is the first phase of the analysis. The next portion of analysis will include:
• carbon impacts by overlaying carbon maps (biomass and soil carbon maps)
• identify other drivers for expansion (such as land rights** and land cover maps)
- Julie Witcover, Sonia Yeh and Daniel Sperling. "Policy Options for Addressing Global Land Use Change in Biofuel Policy," Submitted to Energy Policy Special Issue on National Low Carbon Fuel Standard.
- Siwa Msangi, Miroslav Batka, Julie Witcover, and Sonia Yeh. "Analysis of iLUC impacts under an LCFS policy: Exploring impact pathways and mitigation options," Submitted to Energy Policy Special Issue on National Low Carbon Fuel Standard.
- Yeh, Sonia, and Julie Witcover. 2010. "Policy Brief: Indirect Land-Use Change from Biofuels: Recent Developments in Modeling and Policy Landscapes, " In Carbon Standards in Agricultural Production and Trade. Sao Paulo: International Food & Agricultural Trade Policy Council (IPC).
Julie Witcover et al. "Market-mediated land use change and biofuel policy towards an evaluation of mitigation options," Presentation at Joint Bioenergy Workshop: Quantifying and managing land use effects of bioenergy, 19-21 September 2011, Campinas, Brazil.