An article recently covered in the Science-Magazine by Searchinger, Kammen et al. provokes an engaged discussion on carbon accounting techniques of biofuels. The original paper pointed out legal loopholes in the Kyoto Protocol, the European Cap and Trade System and the Waxman-Markey bill, which neglect carbon emissions caused by deforestation to clear the land for the production of biofuels. At BiofuelsDigest.com press coverage of the issue by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times are synthesized with a statement of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).
Searchinger, et al Science paper say treaty rules for bioenergy emissions encourage deforestation; strong industry reaction
WASHINGTON — US experts warn that rules governing biofuel production encourage deforestation and mean the technology is therefore a "false" method of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
In a study to be published Friday in the US journal Science, a group of 13 scientists called for the rules, which contain a loophole exempting carbon dioxide emitted by bioenergy regardless of its source, to be overturned.
This article takes a dismissive perspective on recent critical findings on biofuels published in the Science Magazine. There, Dan Kammen and other climate experts pointed out a loophole in the current wording of the Kyoto Protocol which should be addressed at the negotiations in Copenhagen. They state that biofuels may have negative carbon footprints due to potential prior deforestation.
The accounting now used for assessing compliance with carbon limits in the Kyoto Protocol and in climate legislation contains a far-reaching but fixable flaw that will severely undermine greenhouse gas reduction goals. It does not count CO2 emitted from tailpipes and smokestacks when bioenergy is being used, but it also does not count changes in emissions from land use when biomass for energy is harvested or grown. This accounting erroneously treats all bioenergy as carbon neutral regardless of the source of the biomass, which may cause large differences in net emissions.