Bioenergy production and sustainable development: science base for policymaking remains limited

Carmenza Robledo-Abad (Corresponding Author), Hans-Jörg Althaus, Göran Berndes, Simon Bolwig, Esteve Corbera, Felix Creutzig, John Garcia-Ulloa, Anna Geddes, Jay S Gregg, Helmut Haberl, Susanne Hanger, Richard J Harper, Carol Hunsberger, Rasmus K. Larsen, Christian Lauk, Stefan Leitner, Johan Lilliestam, Hermann Lotze-Campen, Bart Muys, Maria Nordborg & 7 others Maria Ölund, Boris Orlowsky, Alexander Popp, Joanna Portugal-Pereira, Jürgen Reinhard, Lena Scheiffle, Pete Smith

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Abstract

The possibility of using bioenergy as a climate change mitigation measure has sparked a discussion of whether and how bioenergy production contributes to sustainable development. We undertook a systematic review of the scientific literature to illuminate this relationship and found a limited scientific basis for policymaking. Our results indicate that knowledge on the sustainable development impacts of bioenergy production is concentrated in a few well-studied countries, focuses on environmental and economic impacts, and mostly relates to dedicated agricultural biomass plantations. The scope and methodological approaches in studies differ widely and only a small share of the studies sufficiently reports on context and/or baseline conditions, which makes it difficult to get a general understanding of the attribution of impacts. Nevertheless, we identified regional patterns of positive or negative impacts for all categories – environmental, economic, institutional, social and technological. In general, economic and technological impacts were more frequently reported as positive, while social and environmental impacts were more frequently reported as negative (with the exception of impacts on direct substitution of GHG emission from fossil fuel). More focused and transparent research is needed to validate these patterns and develop a strong science underpinning for establishing policies and governance agreements that prevent/mitigate negative and promote positive impacts from bioenergy production.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541–556
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal Change Biology. Bioenergy
Volume9
Issue number3
Early online date23 Mar 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

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bioenergy
sustainable development
Sustainable development
Economics
environmental impact
baseline conditions
Fossil fuels
Climate change
social impact
environmental economics
Environmental impact
regional pattern
systematic review
fossil fuels
Biomass
Substitution reactions
governance
economic impact
fossil fuel
substitution

Keywords

  • agriculture
  • bioenergy
  • food security
  • forestry
  • mitigation
  • sustainable development

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Bioenergy production and sustainable development : science base for policymaking remains limited. / Robledo-Abad, Carmenza (Corresponding Author); Althaus, Hans-Jörg; Berndes, Göran; Bolwig, Simon; Corbera, Esteve; Creutzig, Felix; Garcia-Ulloa, John; Geddes, Anna; Gregg, Jay S; Haberl, Helmut; Hanger, Susanne ; Harper, Richard J; Hunsberger, Carol; Larsen, Rasmus K.; Lauk, Christian; Leitner, Stefan; Lilliestam, Johan ; Lotze-Campen, Hermann; Muys, Bart; Nordborg, Maria; Ölund, Maria ; Orlowsky, Boris; Popp, Alexander; Portugal-Pereira, Joanna; Reinhard, Jürgen; Scheiffle, Lena ; Smith, Pete.

In: Global Change Biology. Bioenergy, Vol. 9, No. 3, 01.03.2017, p. 541–556 .

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Robledo-Abad, C, Althaus, H-J, Berndes, G, Bolwig, S, Corbera, E, Creutzig, F, Garcia-Ulloa, J, Geddes, A, Gregg, JS, Haberl, H, Hanger, S, Harper, RJ, Hunsberger, C, Larsen, RK, Lauk, C, Leitner, S, Lilliestam, J, Lotze-Campen, H, Muys, B, Nordborg, M, Ölund, M, Orlowsky, B, Popp, A, Portugal-Pereira, J, Reinhard, J, Scheiffle, L & Smith, P 2017, 'Bioenergy production and sustainable development: science base for policymaking remains limited' Global Change Biology. Bioenergy, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 541–556 . https://doi.org/10.1111/gcbb.12338
Robledo-Abad C, Althaus H-J, Berndes G, Bolwig S, Corbera E, Creutzig F et al. Bioenergy production and sustainable development: science base for policymaking remains limited. Global Change Biology. Bioenergy. 2017 Mar 1;9(3):541–556 . https://doi.org/10.1111/gcbb.12338
Robledo-Abad, Carmenza ; Althaus, Hans-Jörg ; Berndes, Göran ; Bolwig, Simon ; Corbera, Esteve ; Creutzig, Felix ; Garcia-Ulloa, John ; Geddes, Anna ; Gregg, Jay S ; Haberl, Helmut ; Hanger, Susanne ; Harper, Richard J ; Hunsberger, Carol ; Larsen, Rasmus K. ; Lauk, Christian ; Leitner, Stefan ; Lilliestam, Johan ; Lotze-Campen, Hermann ; Muys, Bart ; Nordborg, Maria ; Ölund, Maria ; Orlowsky, Boris ; Popp, Alexander ; Portugal-Pereira, Joanna ; Reinhard, Jürgen ; Scheiffle, Lena ; Smith, Pete. / Bioenergy production and sustainable development : science base for policymaking remains limited. In: Global Change Biology. Bioenergy. 2017 ; Vol. 9, No. 3. pp. 541–556 .
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abstract = "The possibility of using bioenergy as a climate change mitigation measure has sparked a discussion of whether and how bioenergy production contributes to sustainable development. We undertook a systematic review of the scientific literature to illuminate this relationship and found a limited scientific basis for policymaking. Our results indicate that knowledge on the sustainable development impacts of bioenergy production is concentrated in a few well-studied countries, focuses on environmental and economic impacts, and mostly relates to dedicated agricultural biomass plantations. The scope and methodological approaches in studies differ widely and only a small share of the studies sufficiently reports on context and/or baseline conditions, which makes it difficult to get a general understanding of the attribution of impacts. Nevertheless, we identified regional patterns of positive or negative impacts for all categories – environmental, economic, institutional, social and technological. In general, economic and technological impacts were more frequently reported as positive, while social and environmental impacts were more frequently reported as negative (with the exception of impacts on direct substitution of GHG emission from fossil fuel). More focused and transparent research is needed to validate these patterns and develop a strong science underpinning for establishing policies and governance agreements that prevent/mitigate negative and promote positive impacts from bioenergy production.",
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author = "Carmenza Robledo-Abad and Hans-J{\"o}rg Althaus and G{\"o}ran Berndes and Simon Bolwig and Esteve Corbera and Felix Creutzig and John Garcia-Ulloa and Anna Geddes and Gregg, {Jay S} and Helmut Haberl and Susanne Hanger and Harper, {Richard J} and Carol Hunsberger and Larsen, {Rasmus K.} and Christian Lauk and Stefan Leitner and Johan Lilliestam and Hermann Lotze-Campen and Bart Muys and Maria Nordborg and Maria {\"O}lund and Boris Orlowsky and Alexander Popp and Joanna Portugal-Pereira and J{\"u}rgen Reinhard and Lena Scheiffle and Pete Smith",
note = "Acknowledgements The authors gratefully acknowledge the participation Omar Masera, Richard Plevin, Roberto Schaeffer, Rainer Zah and Jacob Mulugetta during the literature appraisal. Carmenza Robledo-Abad acknowledges support from the Swiss State Secretary of Economic Affairs. Helmut Haberl gratefully acknowledges funding from the Austrian Provision Programme, the Austrian Academy of Sciences (Global Change Programme) and the EU-FP7 project VOLANTE. Esteve Corbera acknowledges the support of the Spanish Research, Development and Innovation Secretariat through a ‘Ram{\'o}n y Cajal’ research fellowship (RYC-2010-07183) and of a Marie Curie Career Integration Grant (PCIG09-GA-2011-294234). Simon Bolwig acknowledges the support of the Innovation Fond Denmark. Alexander Popp acknowledges the support from the European Union's Seventh Framework Program project LUC4C (grant agreement no. 603542). Bart Muys acknowledges support from the KLIMOS Acropolis research network on sustainable development funded by VLIR/ARES/DGD (Belgian Development Aid). Rasmus Kl{\o}cker Larsen acknowledges funding from the Swedish research council Formas. Carol Hunsberger acknowledges the support of a postdoctoral fellowship from Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. John Garcia-Ulloa is supported by the Mercator Foundation Switzerland and the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center. Johan Lilliestam, Anna Geddes and Susan Hanger acknowledge the support from the European Research Council (ERC) consolidator grant, contract number 313533. Joana Portugal-Pereira acknowledges the support of National Centre of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq), under the Science Without Borders Programme (no 401164/2012-8). Richard Harper acknowledges funding from the Australian Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.",
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T2 - science base for policymaking remains limited

AU - Robledo-Abad, Carmenza

AU - Althaus, Hans-Jörg

AU - Berndes, Göran

AU - Bolwig, Simon

AU - Corbera, Esteve

AU - Creutzig, Felix

AU - Garcia-Ulloa, John

AU - Geddes, Anna

AU - Gregg, Jay S

AU - Haberl, Helmut

AU - Hanger, Susanne

AU - Harper, Richard J

AU - Hunsberger, Carol

AU - Larsen, Rasmus K.

AU - Lauk, Christian

AU - Leitner, Stefan

AU - Lilliestam, Johan

AU - Lotze-Campen, Hermann

AU - Muys, Bart

AU - Nordborg, Maria

AU - Ölund, Maria

AU - Orlowsky, Boris

AU - Popp, Alexander

AU - Portugal-Pereira, Joanna

AU - Reinhard, Jürgen

AU - Scheiffle, Lena

AU - Smith, Pete

N1 - Acknowledgements The authors gratefully acknowledge the participation Omar Masera, Richard Plevin, Roberto Schaeffer, Rainer Zah and Jacob Mulugetta during the literature appraisal. Carmenza Robledo-Abad acknowledges support from the Swiss State Secretary of Economic Affairs. Helmut Haberl gratefully acknowledges funding from the Austrian Provision Programme, the Austrian Academy of Sciences (Global Change Programme) and the EU-FP7 project VOLANTE. Esteve Corbera acknowledges the support of the Spanish Research, Development and Innovation Secretariat through a ‘Ramón y Cajal’ research fellowship (RYC-2010-07183) and of a Marie Curie Career Integration Grant (PCIG09-GA-2011-294234). Simon Bolwig acknowledges the support of the Innovation Fond Denmark. Alexander Popp acknowledges the support from the European Union's Seventh Framework Program project LUC4C (grant agreement no. 603542). Bart Muys acknowledges support from the KLIMOS Acropolis research network on sustainable development funded by VLIR/ARES/DGD (Belgian Development Aid). Rasmus Kløcker Larsen acknowledges funding from the Swedish research council Formas. Carol Hunsberger acknowledges the support of a postdoctoral fellowship from Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. John Garcia-Ulloa is supported by the Mercator Foundation Switzerland and the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center. Johan Lilliestam, Anna Geddes and Susan Hanger acknowledge the support from the European Research Council (ERC) consolidator grant, contract number 313533. Joana Portugal-Pereira acknowledges the support of National Centre of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq), under the Science Without Borders Programme (no 401164/2012-8). Richard Harper acknowledges funding from the Australian Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.

PY - 2017/3/1

Y1 - 2017/3/1

N2 - The possibility of using bioenergy as a climate change mitigation measure has sparked a discussion of whether and how bioenergy production contributes to sustainable development. We undertook a systematic review of the scientific literature to illuminate this relationship and found a limited scientific basis for policymaking. Our results indicate that knowledge on the sustainable development impacts of bioenergy production is concentrated in a few well-studied countries, focuses on environmental and economic impacts, and mostly relates to dedicated agricultural biomass plantations. The scope and methodological approaches in studies differ widely and only a small share of the studies sufficiently reports on context and/or baseline conditions, which makes it difficult to get a general understanding of the attribution of impacts. Nevertheless, we identified regional patterns of positive or negative impacts for all categories – environmental, economic, institutional, social and technological. In general, economic and technological impacts were more frequently reported as positive, while social and environmental impacts were more frequently reported as negative (with the exception of impacts on direct substitution of GHG emission from fossil fuel). More focused and transparent research is needed to validate these patterns and develop a strong science underpinning for establishing policies and governance agreements that prevent/mitigate negative and promote positive impacts from bioenergy production.

AB - The possibility of using bioenergy as a climate change mitigation measure has sparked a discussion of whether and how bioenergy production contributes to sustainable development. We undertook a systematic review of the scientific literature to illuminate this relationship and found a limited scientific basis for policymaking. Our results indicate that knowledge on the sustainable development impacts of bioenergy production is concentrated in a few well-studied countries, focuses on environmental and economic impacts, and mostly relates to dedicated agricultural biomass plantations. The scope and methodological approaches in studies differ widely and only a small share of the studies sufficiently reports on context and/or baseline conditions, which makes it difficult to get a general understanding of the attribution of impacts. Nevertheless, we identified regional patterns of positive or negative impacts for all categories – environmental, economic, institutional, social and technological. In general, economic and technological impacts were more frequently reported as positive, while social and environmental impacts were more frequently reported as negative (with the exception of impacts on direct substitution of GHG emission from fossil fuel). More focused and transparent research is needed to validate these patterns and develop a strong science underpinning for establishing policies and governance agreements that prevent/mitigate negative and promote positive impacts from bioenergy production.

KW - agriculture

KW - bioenergy

KW - food security

KW - forestry

KW - mitigation

KW - sustainable development

U2 - 10.1111/gcbb.12338

DO - 10.1111/gcbb.12338

M3 - Article

VL - 9

SP - 541

EP - 556

JO - Global Change Biology. Bioenergy

JF - Global Change Biology. Bioenergy

SN - 1757-1693

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ER -