8. July 2021 Meghan Sapp

Energy Transitions Commission report says biofuel demand could outstrip sustainable supply

In the UK, the Energy Transitions Commission’s latest report sets out how rapidly increasing demand for bioresources could outstrip sustainable supply, undermining climate mitigation efforts and harming biodiversity, unless alternative zero-carbon options are rapidly scaled-up and use of bioresources carefully prioritized.

The report, Bioresources Within a Net-Zero Emissions Economy: Making a Sustainable Approach Possible, makes plain that, while bioresources are in principle renewable, not all forms of biomass use are beneficial from an environmental perspective: not all biomass is ‘good’ biomass. To be sustainable, biomass production should have low lifecycle GHG emissions.  Its production should take into account the ‘opportunity cost’ related to carbon that could be sequestered without intervention, and must not:

compete with use of land for food production

trigger any land use change that could release carbon stocks into the atmosphere (especially deforestation),

negatively impact biodiversity and ecosystem health.

Thus, biomass sources for use as energy should be limited to waste & residues, dedicated energy crop production on degraded / marginal lands, or where current crop / pastureland can be released.

The ETC is a coalition of more than 45 leaders from global energy companies, energy-intensive industries, financial institutions and environmental advocates – including ArcelorMittal, Bank of America, BP, Development Research Center of the State Council of China, EBRD, Heathrow, HSBC, Iberdrola, Ørsted, Tata Group, Volvo Group and the World Resources Institute among others.