EU Joint Research Centre publishes iLUC expert report and new IFPRI-based factors

Posted Wednesday, 26 October 2011, 00:00

In the last week, the EU’s scientific directorate, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), has published two reports – the rather delayed report of the outcomes of an iLUC experts’ meeting last November, and a report with new iLUC emissions estimates based on a combination of IFPRI MIRAGE’s new economic modelling and the JRC’s own spatial allocation model for determining the carbon consequences of land conversion.

The expert meeting overview report is called ‘Critical Issues in Estimating ILUC Emissions’ and considers many of the central issues in the modelling of emissions from indirect land use change in some detail. The headline conclusion of the report is:

The experts unanimously agreed that, even when uncertainties are high, there is strong evidence that the ILUC effect is significant and that this effect is crop‐specific. The sustainability criteria in the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) limit direct land use change (LUC) but they are ineffective to avoid ILUC, and therefore additional policy measures are necessary.

The use of a factor which attributes a quantity of GHG emissions to crop‐specific biofuels was the favourite option discussed, but it was also agreed that policies should incentivise good agricultural practices, land management C‐mitigation strategies and intensification on pasture lands.

On the other hand, the experts agreed that the increase of the GHG threshold will have only a limited effect on ILUC reduction.

The iLUC emissions estimates are based on the land use change predictions from the recent DG Trade study using IFPRI MIRAGE, but with the JRC’s more complex model of land allocation and carbon cost instead of IFPRI’s emissions model. It finds broadly similar results to IFPRI, with a slightly lower average carbon emission intensity but the same clear hierarchy of biodiesel being more emissions intensive than ethanol.