That’s according to a new study published by researchers from the University of Utrecht, suggesting that ILUC can be mitigated if the right practices are put in place – especially when biofuels are produced from crops grown as a result of increasing agricultural crop yields on under-utilised land.

ILUC occurs when biofuels are produced on existing agricultural land and the demand for food crops remains, leading to the production of food elsewhere. This may result in land use change by, for example, changing forest into agricultural land which causes a substantial amount of CO2 to be released into the atmosphere.

Case studies 

The report, titled ILUC prevention project, looks into how ILUC risks can be mitigated by taking a sustainable approach to all crop production; how this can be quantified; and how ILUC mitigation may be regulated.

Researchers analysed four European case studies and found that the biofuels produced in these would be enough to meet 1.3% of total energy demand – or 13% of the total renewable energy demand – in EU road transport by 2020.The report goes on to suggest that the governing policy framework for ILUC mitigation must take a broader and more integrated approach to capture the potential of low-ILUC-risk biofuels and ensure a sustainable pathway for biofuels. 

Commenting on the findings, ePURE secretary general Robert Wright said: “These findings are a game-changer in the ILUC debate. There is massive potential in Europe to produce sustainable biofuels with little or no ILUC impacts but we need to realise these benefits – more jobs, better resource efficiency and reducing GHGs in transport.

“Low-ILUC-risk biofuels are a win-win and should be excluded from any cap. Policymakers should identify a means to enable low-ILUC-risk biofuels to contribute to the EU’s energy and climate targets for transport.”

Lois Vallely

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