Category Archives: Biofuels & Climate Change

British Government to Study Indirect Impacts of Biofuels

Last week, Britain’s Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA) launched a series of studies of the indirect land-use impacts of biofuels, following a lecture by Princeton’s Tim Searchinger, lead author of “Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land Use Change” published in Science in February. The RFA intends to publish a draft report in May, prior to negotiation of EU-wide biofuels targets to 2020 in Brussels later this year. Britain is set Read More >

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Indirect Land Use Thoughts

Dear Colleagues: I have spent a lot of time the last few weeks trying to think through the indirect land use change (ILUC) issue. I have divided my thoughts into two questions that I am asking myself: 1) are we in fact currently able to estimate these changes with any degree of confidence?, and 2) if we could estimate such changes, would it be a good idea to base policy on those estimates? My current Read More >

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Do Biofuels Always Bring Rainforest Destruction?

The debate over “carbon debt” created by changes in land use has recently expanded to include the issue of competition between food and fuel and its effect on developing countries. David Tilman of the University of Minnesota, one of the lead authors of the “Land Clearing and the Biofuel Carbon Debt” article in Science, recently held an interview with Newsweek magazine in which he says, In order to grow biofuels, farmers have gone to fertile Read More >

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Linking Biotechnology, Chemistry & Agriculture for a better future

Interested in alternative energy sources? BIO’s World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing, on April 27-30 in Chicago, IL, is the forum where experts from around the globe come together to discuss this topic, with major themes around sustainability and climate change.  But let’s not stop there. If industrial and environmental biotechnology is your business — this is a meeting you must attend.  We’ll have sessions about: synthetic biology and directed evolution, sustainable biofuels, bioplastics, and Read More >

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Trying to Define the Indirect Land Use Issue

Michigan State University Professor of Chemical Engineering Bruce Dale recently sent a letter to colleagues interpreting the analyses by Searchinger et al. and Fargione et al. in Science. In the letter, Dale says, “The Searchinger and Fargione argument at its root is this: corn (and perhaps cellulosic) ethanol is not sustainable because it will divert land use for animal feed (over 70% of corn is fed to animals) to new lands that will release large Read More >

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