Attributing land-use change carbon emissions to exported biomass

Laura Saikku (Corresponding Author), Sampo Soimakallio, Kim Pingoud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, a simple, transparent and robust method is developed in which land-use change (LUC) emissions are retrospectively attributed to exported biomass products based on the agricultural area occupied for the production. LUC emissions account for approximately one-fifth of current greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing agricultural exports are becoming an important driver of deforestation. Brazil and Indonesia are used as case studies due to their significant deforestation in recent years. According to our study, in 2007, approximately 32% and 15% of the total agricultural land harvested and LUC emissions in Brazil and Indonesia respectively were due to exports. The most important exported single items with regard to deforestation were palm oil for Indonesia and bovine meat for Brazil. To reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions effectively worldwide, leakage of emissions should be avoided. This can be done, for example, by attributing embodied LUC emissions to exported biomass products. With the approach developed in this study, controversial attribution between direct and indirect LUC and amortization of emissions over the product life cycle can be overcome, as the method operates on an average basis and annual level. The approach could be considered in the context of the UNFCCC climate policy instead of, or alongside with, other instruments aimed at reducing deforestation. However, the quality of the data should be improved and some methodological issues, such as the allocation procedure in multiproduct systems and the possible dilution effect through third parties not committed to emission reduction targets, should be considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-54
JournalEnvironmental Impact Assessment Review
Publication statusPublished - 2012
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Carbon emissions
  • deforestation
  • land-use change
  • leakage
  • trade


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