Report: ILUC penalties under the RED will harm developing nations

By Erin Voegele | July 12, 2013

A new report published by World Growth argues that the E.U.’s proposal regarding indirect land use change (ILUC) carbon emissions under the Renewable Energy Directive represents a futile effort to curb productive land use in Asia. The report, titled “A change for the worse: The campaign to re-dredge ‘Indirect Land Use Change,’” asserts that burdensome ILUC reporting requirements will have no significant impact on land use changes, but will create new obstacles the process of importing fuel from non-European biofuel producers.

In a press release announcing the report, World Growth explains that the European Parliament is expected to vote on a proposal that would add new requirements to report or calculate ILUC emissions for renewable fuels exported to Europe under the RED. Within the report, World Growth notes that one member of European parliament has gone so far as to propose that market access for these biofuels to be based on ILUC factors.

World Growth, however, stresses that ILUC is a complex phenomenon and that even when using the “best available scientific evidence” still results in incorrect reporting. Those pushing to include ILUC emissions in the RED do so under the assumption that Europe’s consumption of biofuels has a noticeable impact on food prices, however those assumptions are incorrect, said World Growth in the report.

According to World Growth, adding ILUC requirements to the RED will actually harm the world’s poor, as biofuel production actually serves to promote economic development. In the long-term, this leads to additional food security, said the organization.

Within the report, World Growth describes several reasons why ILUC models are currently highly inaccurate. First, the organization notes that existing data sets on global land use contradict one another. Second, the group stresses that assessing land use change is inherently difficult, particularly in developing countries where it reflects a wide range of economic, social, legal, and biophysical factors. The organization also points out that modelling has failed to address all the determinants of land use change.

A full copy of the report is available on the World Growth website