25x’25, Energy Future Coalition Commend IPCC Work Group’s Recognition of Role of Bioenergy in Mitigating Climate Change

Source: 25x25 and Energy Future Coalition • Posted: Monday, April 7, 2014

The 25x’25 Alliance and the Energy Future Coalition applaud an International Panel on Climate Change work group for recognizing the valuable role that bioenergy, including biofuels, can play in addressing a changing change. The second of three reports that will make up the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment to be released later this year, “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” says there are many compelling reasons why a country would encourage biofuel production as a means to help mitigate the risks from climate change.

   The document, which consists of a “summary for policymakers” and some 30 technical reports, notes that significant co-benefits between mitigation and adaptation strategies exist, including improved energy efficiency and cleaner sources of energy, sustainable agriculture and forestry, and the protection of ecosystems for carbon storage and other ecosystem services.

While the authors note the potential risks if bioenergy crops are pursued without regard to consequences for ecosystems and biodiversity, they also demonstrate in the report a confidence in sustainably developed bioenergy as an important part of a climate change mitigation strategy. The 25x’25 Alliance and Energy Future Coalition agree and note that the magnitude and probability of these risks are mitigated by continuous improvements in feedstock production and conversion technologies and conservation systems that are being adopted across the value chain.

The IPCC’s confidence is well earned. A lifecycle analysis done by researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory and published in 2013 in the journal Environmental Research Letters, found that corn ethanol produced between 2008 and 2012 reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by an average of 34 percent compared to gasoline, including so-called indirect land use change (ILUC) emissions. Also, biodiesel is designated by EPA as an “advanced” biofuel because it produces at least 50 percent fewer GHGs than oil-based diesel.

Producers today are producing biofuels more efficiently, using less energy and water, all while offering significant environment benefits by reducing high-carbon climate-changing emissions from our transportation fuels. Three plants, including a POET-DSM plant and a DuPont facility, both in Iowa, and an Abengoa Bioenergy plant in Kansas, are set to open this year and produce commercial-scale supplies of cellulosic ethanol, which is made from crop residues and non-food crops, and can reduce greenhouse gases by 85 percent.

The IPCC report notes that nearly all of the risks associated with bioenergy are driven by increased need for raw agricultural feedstocks. Fortunately, the United States is blessed with vast amounts of biomass feedstocks that can be sustainably produced and used to deliver high-value, near-term climate change solutions, including avoided emissions via biofuel production, carbon sequestration services through photosynthesis, and conversion of agricultural emissions to clean forms of energy. A DOE study shows the nation can produce one billion dry tons of biomass resources annually for energy uses without impacting other vital U.S. farm and forest products, such as food, feed and fiber crops.

The facts – and the report – speak for themselves: Climate change will create enormous challenges for the agricultural and forestry sectors. But through sustainable intensification of production and adaptive management, climate-smart agriculture and bioenergy will be powerful tools in the fight against climate change.

For additional information, contact Ernie Shea, 25x’25 project director, at 410-952-0123, or at EShea@25×25.org, or Reid Detchon, Executive Director, Energy Future Coalition, at 202-887-9040, or at Detchon@energyfuturecoalition.org