How to ensure greenhouse gas emission reductions by increasing the use of biofuels? Suitability of the European Union sustainability criteria

Sampo Soimakallio (Corresponding Author), Kati Koponen

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    40 Citations (Scopus)


    Biofuels are promoted in many parts of the world. However, concern of environmental and social problems have grown due to increased production of biofuels. Therefore, many initiatives for sustainability criteria have been announced. As a part of the European Union (EU) renewable energy promotion directive (RED), the EU has introduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emission-saving requirements for biofuels along with the first-ever mandate methodology to calculate the GHG emission reduction. As explored in this paper, the RED methodology, based on life-cycle assessment (LCA) approach, excludes many critical issues. These include indirect impacts due to competition for land, biomass and other auxiliary inputs. Also, timing issues, allocation problems, and uncertainty of individual parameters are not yet considered adequately. Moreover, the default values provided in the RED for the GHG balances of biofuels may significantly underestimate their actual impacts. We conclude that the RED methodology cannot ensure the intended GHG emission reductions of biofuels. Instead, a more comprehensive approach is required along with additional data and indicators. Even if it may be very difficult to verify the GHG emission reductions of biofuels in practice, it is necessary to consider the uncertainties more closely, in order to mitigate climate change effectively.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3504-3513
    Number of pages10
    JournalBiomass and Bioenergy
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed



    • Biofuel
    • criteria
    • greenhouse gas emission
    • life-cycle assessment
    • sustainability

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