Biofuels and Indirect Land Use Change

With the objective of make the transport sector more sustainable, the European Commission has promoted the use of biofuels, for example through the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) from 2009. However, there are concerns that biofuels may not reduce emissions as much as hoped, since they can spur increased emissions elsewhere through land use change, either directly (DLUC) or indirectly (ILUC). While DLUC can be measured and monitored, ILUC cannot, and therefore needs to be estimated using complex models.

Now in 2019, the ILUC discussion is back on the political agenda. The recast of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) limits the extent to which biofuels from feedstocks associated with high ILUC can contribute to the renewable energy target for transport. For now, high ILUC biofuels may not exceed 2019 consumption levels, and are to be phased out to zero by 2030.

As of today, there is no clear definition of what high ILUC vs low ILUC risk biofuels are, but the Commission is preparing a Delegated act to classify this in 2019.

In our study, we assess whether the ILUC concept is fit for such regulation. Our main findings are the following:

The study is commissioned by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.



Related work

Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) The future of fossil fuels
The Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) A market and profitability analysis of biofuels in aviation