Biofuels and the Developing World

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Biofuels and the Developing World - Peter Hubbard

Abstract

This article explores the issues developing countries face in implementing a biofuels program as a means of growth and security. Biofuel development holds the promise of significant gains, but at the same time, very challenging problems must be addressed if the impact is to be positive on balance. A well-designed biofuels program will stimulate agricultural productivity and green technologies, help to create rural jobs, and free up precious capital from being spent on fossil fuels. Yet attention must also be given to the major pitfalls and hurdles—chief among them food scarcity and climate change—which are changing the calculus for biofuels. It is concluded that the potential for developing countries to harness biofuels for their advantage is real, but only if great care is taken to constrain the potential for adverse consequences.

Fueling the Race

Since around 2000 the world has witnessed an extraordinary level of renewed interest and growth in biofuels.1 Many countries have been compelled to jump-start new programs or ramp up existing capacity to produce ethanol and biodiesel for a number of convincing reasons. The impetus ranges from uncertainty about future oil supplies to acting to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. The United States and Europe have been sprinting to boost biofuel production.2 Meanwhile, Brazil—whose ethanol program was initiated during the oil price shocks of the 1970s—has been setting the pace of a longdistance runner.

The concerns over steep oil prices and climate change are not, however, limited to industrialized countries or to forward-thinking nations like Brazil. Indeed, much of the developing world stands to suffer disproportionately from global energy constraints. Their economies, much less diversified and robust, are ill prepared to adapt to shifting circumstances. The chance to develop alternative sources of energy and income is a welcome one.

Notwithstanding the many serious challenges that merit a healthy dose of prudence, biofuels do have the potential to benefit developing countries as a profitable new cash crop. These nations often are well suited to the production of biofuels, enjoying many advantages in terms of growing conditions and crop choice. Among developing countries, Brazil is held up frequently as the gold standard for harnessing biofuels to its advantage and has built a very substantial ethanol industry based on sugarcane.

The aim here is to examine the potential that other developing countries have to parlay similar circumstances with respect to biofuels for their overall gain while giving due consideration to the obstacles—most poignantly that of the food versus fuel debate—that weigh heavily on their development.

What Role for Biofuels?

At about the same time as biofuels were entering more generally into the public sphere, the world took a critical look at efforts to tackle the striking global inequities between the rich and the poor. The spotty progress made in the 20th century evoked a sense that more must be done to close the gap. This meant delving into the fundamental roots of poverty by addressing underlying economic insecurities. To keep the world on task, the United Nations created the Millennium Development Goals3, the first of which has as its aim “eradicat[ing] extreme poverty and hunger.” Arguably one of the most effective ways to address material poverty is by eradicating an intimately related type of poverty—that of energy. In fact, access to affordable and reliable energy is the sine qua non to achieving all of the UN’s development goals.

To date, developing countries have registered economic and developmental gains ranging from laudable to lackluster. Population increases are testing the ability of governments to keep pace with basic economic needs like access to energy. Non-OECD energy demand is projected to grow 85 percent during the period from 2005 to 2030, compared to 19 percent in the developed world.4 Meanwhile, probabilities of finding new oil deposits are diminishing and the exploration and production costs of tapping sources like oil shale are rising. Meeting this phenomenal increase in demand will require a diverse set of energy policy options, and biofuels have a part to play.

Generally speaking developing countries possess a number of natural endowments suitable for growing feedstocks.5 They tend to have favorable climates for the types of plants used for biofuels, such as the humid and tropical countries like Indonesia where temperatures remain warm and lingering rainy seasons allow multiple crop rotations. The cost of labor remains low and large amounts of underutilized or marginal land indicate untapped capacity.

Moreover, the reality is that neither Europe nor the United States has the territorial capacity to produce rapeseed or maize on a large enough scale to fully—or even mostly— replace their petroleum needs. Despite this, industrialized countries continue to push for more biofuels, raising global demand for inputs. In the long term this will give rise to significant arbitrage and the export of inputs from developing countries as their production and transport capacities mature. More pointedly, these countries can exploit the full economic potential by making and exporting the biofuels themselves. Engaging the entire production chain will help create jobs on every scale, from the farmer sowing seeds to the plant manager to the biodiesel truck driver. As the nascent international trade in biofuels continues to expand, developing countries stand poised to capture their share of the benefits.

Demand from the United States and Europe will likely remain healthy, but above all biofuels should answer to domestic energy demands. Astronomical fuel imports are taking a toll on the balance of payments in poor countries.6 Rather than diverting expenditures away from infrastructure investments or health spending to meet energy needs, developing countries could be producing their own fuels. Building the capacity for greater energy self sufficiency with biofuels is viable and would help dissociate the reliance many developing countries have on imported oil, In Africa alone 18 countries are entirely dependent on oil imports.7

Indeed, Brazil—the archetype of success—has demonstrated that emerging market economies can stand to gain substantially in the production, refinement, domestic use and international trade of biofuels. Recognizing this, more governments are turning to biofuels for rural development and energy independence with national strategies designed to encourage production. Take for instance South Africa’s Industrial Biofuels Strategy8 or Malaysia’s National Biofuel Policy.9 In fact, Malaysia is a good example of the economic possibilities of biofuels. The benefits from growing and producing palm-oil biodiesel in Malaysia could achieve export levels worth $5 billion and raise GDP per capita by an impressive 2.34 percent by embracing biofuels.10

The rosy assessment of biofuels given so far does not come without caveats. Concentrating efforts on biofuels may lead a country to aggravate problems elsewhere and could put it further from its goals. Biofuels have raised genuine concerns about the balance between costs and benefits. If they are pursued without an honest reckoning, the balance can turn negative quickly. Developing countries may be apprehensive of implementing a potentially nettlesome biofuels program, but a measured approach will lead to broad gains.

A Punch in the Stomach

Ethanol’s history as a transport fuel stretches back to the early 19th century.11 Yet only in recent years have biofuels caught the imagination of the industrialized world. Global ambitions expanded greatly in 2003 and 2004 when the EU and United States passed bold energy initiatives designed to displace billions of liters of fossil fuel with biodiesel and ethanol, respectively. Along the way, a few early critics of biofuels were raising concerns over the potential for harm from biofuels competing with food, feed and fiber. In 2007 the world truly grasped the gravity of the problem when Ford Runge and Benjamin Senauer published their seminal article “How Biofuels Could Starve the Poor.”12 Their vision seemed to come to life in nightmarish detail in 2008 when food riots erupted in over 30 developing countries.

The food versus fuel debate has become perhaps the most visceral argument against biofuels. Clearly, deciding between filling stomachs and filling automobile tanks is not a decision anyone should need to make. Yet required blending mandates are making this decision. The repercussions of rushed biofuel policy have rendered biofuels a potent symbol of danger in the public eye.

In truth, biofuels—as they are currently produced—are culpable to a certain degree. Depending on whom you ask, biofuels are responsible for anywhere from three percent to as much as 75 percent of the run-up in global food prices.13 The true magnitude probably lies somewhere in between. Critics argue in Hippocratic fashion that biofuels offer a cure worse than the disease it is trying to heal. Yet it is one factor among many spurring food inflation. The diverse influences—some structural and others circumstantial—have converged and amplified the dramatic rise in food prices. The increased demand for meat14 from a rising middle class in China and India, devastating droughts in Australia and Ukraine, galloping energy prices, chronic underinvestment in technologies to improve yields (for which developing countries are as guilty as developed ones), and even financial speculators all played a dynamic part. Whether responsible for a large share or a small one, governments must be concerned with mitigating the harmful effects that competition among food, fuel and feedstocks can bring.

The clearest strategy for tempering the food versus fuel argument is to decouple biofuels from crops used for food or animal feed. In the short run this implies moving away from food crops like maize towards non-edible oil plants or sugarcane. In the long run this will require innovations in technology to transition to second- and third-generation biofuels15, advances that will come from the laboratories of the developed world and from industry leaders like Brazil. This needs to be a systematic and cautious movement away from direct competition, meaning biomass grown for energy must compete only minimally with food in terms of land or water. Numerous examples exist of promising noncompetitive second generation materials. Products like municipal waste, forest debris and crop residue are available and should be employed as cellulosic technology filters into developing countries.

More important is achieving higher production yields for food crops through improved varieties, application of fertilizers and crop rotations. In Africa, where 65 percent of the population is engaged in agriculture, many crops in the developing world are grown under suboptimal conditions and poor soil management. Farmers rely on natural fertilizers like manure and organic compost but could do much more with manufactured fertilizers.16 Of course, these farmers would likely use better fertilizers if they knew how best to use them and could afford them. Here, NGOs can step in with knowledge sharing and governments can facilitate funding for nutrients to boost yields. A candidate crop for such an approach is cassava—the staple food of nearly one billion people in 105 countries—which in Africa reaches average yields of only a fifth that reached in countries that employ optimal growing techniques.17

Given favorable climates and extended growing seasons, farmers in Brazil and Indonesia for example, can produce two or more crops on the same land during the course of a year. Carefully rotating plants maintains soil nutrient integrity. In fact, intercropping and rotating native biofuel feedstocks with native food plants can raise yields, can improve pest and disease resistance and can give a wider range of products to the farmer to consume or sell. Additionally, this helps reduce the drawbacks associated with monoculture farming, which threaten the vast biodiversity of Brazil. It is difficult to quantify the precise value biodiversity brings, but the benefits in watershed management, wildlife habitat, pollination, and most importantly local livelihoods are undoubtedly extensive.

Demographics will maintain pressure to strive for new technologies. Despite the exponential population growth in developing countries—and the attendant rise in global food demand—there is not the same level of technical advances the world experienced during the Green Revolution of the 1970s when agricultural yields increased and prices declined in real terms. Now, when new crop strains are created, they evoke fear that the modified strain will irrevocably stain the genetic pool for the worse. These concerns are legitimate because the science is so new, but if the desire is to meet world energy needs with energy harvested from organic matter while not harming the poorest of the poor, a new Green Revolution must take place. Genetically modified organisms have a role to play in boosting yields, and if employed for nonfood second generation biofuel crops then this may help assuage environmentalists. At the same time, developing countries themselves need to allocate funds to invest in their own capacity to improve yields and create opportunities for farmers.

Finally, when considering the impact of biofuels on food availability, a point sometimes overlooked is that nutritional poverty comes not only from lack of access but also from the inability to purchase food available elsewhere in the world.18 A worker gainfully employed in a biofuel-generated job can buy much more of the food he or she needs. Higher incomes in turn give greater adaptability to deal with swings in commodity markets.19 The question of whether relative gains from rising income trump the decreased purchasing power from higher food prices ends up being one of implementation.

The Devil is in the Details

Climate change—the second major rationale for biofuels—has proven to be more complicated than was thought originally. This has real implications for developing countries that will bear the brunt of the hardship from rising global temperatures. Consider the growing awareness surrounding the impact of biofuels mandates in the West. What appeared on paper to be a foolproof, win-win strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and boosting rural agriculture now is increasingly believed to have a negative net effect on reducing atmospheric carbon levels for what is essentially an accounting error. Only direct land use effects and competition were considered, while indirect land use change and the sequestration capacity of land in its present use were ignored.

A recent article in the journal Science illustrates the argument.20 In the absence of biofuels, cropland is used primarily for producing food, clothing fibers and animal feed. Introducing biofuels raises demand for bioenergy feedstocks, and productive land is shifted to nonfood purposes. This lowers the supply of food stocks and raises prices. In turn, this leads farmers to seek new land on which to plant food crops, potentially by clearing forests or plowing grasslands. Even if biofuel feedstocks are planted on land that never was forested, they can be indirectly responsible for very significant amounts of carbon release through deforestation, conversion of grassland, and from the loss of future stores of carbon due to growth. It is when this net loss of carbon capture is accounted for that the environmental rationale for biofuels goes up in smoke.

The takeaway moral is that the benefits of biofuels should not be obtained by sacrificing the environment or the needs of local populations dependent on the land, and governments must take care to avoid indirect land use change. Currently, the global feedstock market does not differentiate between sustainable and non-sustainable production. What is needed is a system of verifiable certifications for food, biofuels, fodder, textiles and all forms of biomass that covers a broad range of acceptable sustainability criteria. A strong regulatory body put in place to monitor effectiveness will help prevent carbon leakage within one and across all countries.21 In addition, quantifying the balance of biofuels through a certification program should allow better performing biofuels to rise to the top of the pack. Producers of eco-friendly biofuels need not be punished alongside poor performing biofuels. Certification will require a measure of political and institutional will on the part of developing countries, but this is within the realm of possibility for many governments given some assistance.

Perhaps a more feasible—and already somewhat field tested—way to avoid indirect land use change effects is to target biofuel crop efforts at marginal lands that otherwise would not be suitable for food production. The West African country of Mali provides a good example of this potential. Perched on the edge of the Sahara, a large swath of the population lives in an arid and rocky band called the Sahel. There, the potential for using marginal lands to produce biodiesel lies with the increasingly popular jatropha bush. It grows quickly and well in degraded or nutrient-poor soil and even enriches it. Animals reject the leaves and seeds while humans cannot consume them, leaving jatropha free to serve uniquely as an oilseed producer.22 In certain test villages, farmers cultivate jatropha to supply their generators with biodiesel. This prevents journeys of 50 kilometers or more to purchase fossil diesel, at great expense to themselves and their meager incomes.

That is not to say the jatropha is the perfect solution for all developing countries. Yields only measure up to a third of sugarcane—the most efficient feedstock (Table 1). It is also very labor intensive and cannot be harvested until four or five years after planting. But it is a good example of a country-specific biofuel solution that avoids many of the previously discussed land problems.23

Table 1 – Five common biofuel feedstocks, displaying energy harvested (gigajoules per hectare) as well as amount of land needed (in terms of billions of hectares and percentage of global arable land, or 2.5 billion hectares) to replace just 20% of global energy consumption (450,000 GJ/year). (Fresco 2006)24

As a qualification, the definition of marginal land is subject to interpretation. Often, subsistence farmers use land that might be deemed “marginal” in very productive ways, such as for harvesting firewood or grazing. Governments must avoid riding roughshod over the traditional land rights of indigenous peoples by defining exactly what constitutes non-productive land and protecting against threatening new uses.

Plainly, the choice of biofuel feedstocks, the locale in which they will grow, and the ability to meet sustainability requirements can make or break the justification for biofuels. As more complete models of indirect land use change are developed, a clearer understanding will develop around best-practices. In the meantime, developing countries should implement programs cautiously on potentially productive areas and perform a cost-benefit analysis to determine the best biofuel crops given the lay of the land.

Fuel for Thought

Given the very real and serious implications of a poorly planned biofuel policy, one may be tempted to dismiss it altogether. Yet biofuels are likely to compose an important part of the developed world energy portfolio. As easily accessible oil resources grow scarcer and the long-term price of oil rises, biofuels will become more competitive to producers. Africa, the tropical islands of Oceania, and Latin America in particular all are poised to capture the lion’s share of this bounty. Clearly, it would be best for governments to understand the consequences of their policy decisions and to guide their biofuel capacity toward positive outcomes.

For developing countries looking to implement best-practices, collaboration will be key. One group that can be strengthened is the Pan-African Non-Petroleum Producers Association (PNPPA), conceived to give institutional support for biofuels production in Africa.25 The PNPPA is an organization working to help African countries realize their productive potential and the opportunities for gains from intraregional trade.

Nevertheless, as South-South trade momentum is building, the United States and Europe remain the largest consumers of biofuels. The trend-setting example of transatlantic policy in the United States and Europe is strong. A large percentage of world trade either originates from, or is destined for, these two regions, and their trading partners are generally compelled to adopt tighter standards. The sooner developing countries embrace biofuel standards that are simple, trustworthy, transparent, equitable and enforceable, the larger their trade opportunities. The goal should be a common methodology that meets internationally accepted standards while protecting local livelihoods and the environment. Financial mechanisms will inevitably be part of the biofuels development equation. There are three levels to consider. At the root is the individual farmer who will need access to very small loans to purchase seed and tools. Microfinance institutions (e.g. Grameen) could supply these funds, as well as to provide support systems to ensure loans are repaid and new loans are passed on to the next generation of budding energy entrepreneurs.

At the middle level are biofuel cooperatives (co-ops). Farmers looking for greater market power can form co-ops to better harness collective buying and selling power and to share valuable information on growing techniques, prices, and other advice. Governments can play a supportive role by providing infrastructure in the form of feeder roads and assisting fledgling co-ops with subsidies and tax-breaks.

Co-ops may also help to mitigate undesirable socioeconomic effects. When land tenure begins to concentrate in the hands of a few large agrobusinessmen, the gains from increased biofuel production flow into a few select hands. Co-ops can help level the playing field by giving market clout to groups of small farmers. When dealing with weak judicial systems, perhaps susceptible to corruption, the individual landowner faces an adversary perhaps too strong for him or her alone. Governments can do their part by putting the rights of small stakeholders first and guarding against corrupt judiciaries. Without recourse to a system for fair arbitration when land disputes arise, the door can be opened for large, foreign-operated investors to purchase land from indigenous peoples at below true value.

Abuses are bound to appear and already some developing countries are implementing biofuels programs with too little regard for local stakeholder rights. In Kenya’s Tana River delta, a $350 million government backed sugarcane project elicited a strident response from nomadic herders concerned their grazing lands and traditional way of life are under threat.26 The project is catapulting a population with a 42 percent poverty rate into the 21st century too quickly for them to adapt. The project may well bring economic gains in the form of jobs, and should drive down prices as supplies increase. But rather than a massive, top-down approach that muscles out traditional peoples, governments could contract smaller agribusinesses for pilot projects employing local populations. This would help demonstrate the potential for direct gains to the people as they grow, refine and sell their sugarcane and ethanol. Careful management is all too important to make the transition from pastoral traditions to a modern economy.

Lastly, the money to financially back this and similar projects could come from international mechanisms such as the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) or its post-2012 successor.27 The CDM allows industrialized countries to fund projects with carbon negative outcomes to offset their own emissions. CDM projects generally have added scrutiny and may bring benefits by way of standardization and adherence to environmental and socioeconomic guidelines, in addition to ensuring against possible incursion on food crops. The projects should generally favor co-op arrangements more than large agribusiness deals to keep benefits diffuse.

Cautious Optimism

Biofuels have a place in the developing world. As a mechanism for rural development and poverty reduction, to raise access to vital energy, and to encourage sustainable environmental stewardship, there is a role for biofuels to play. Whether the outcome is net positive or net negative will depend on implementation.

The lesson to be learned is that developing countries must begin with a frank appraisal of their capacities and their limitations, as well as an appraisal of the costs and benefits, with a sharp eye to the complexity and consequences of biofuel production. A healthy dose of prudence is warranted. Governments should establish the framework to gently but firmly guide biofuels down the path of sustainability and away from the multiple hazards they could bring. Developing countries should begin with targeted pilot programs, giving time for the programs to prove themselves and then allowing those that show promise to expand. In this way indigenous expertise will follow and good projects will show themselves to be self-propagating and sustainable. If done wisely, biofuels programs can do much good for the developing countries of the world.

Notes & References

  1. An umbrella term defined as any fuel derived from recently living organisms ortheir metabolic byproducts, including cereals, coarse grains, oilseeds, fruits, vegetables, trees, dung, sawdust, grasses, etc.
  2. In the U.S. the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandated aRenewable Fuel Standard that requires fuel producers to blend in 36 billion gallons of biofuels with conventional fossil fuels by 2022. In Europe a target has been set to source 10% of its transportation fuels from biofuels by 2020, although this looks increasingly to be revised downward in 2008 due to unresolved environmental and agricultural concerns. In Brazil the first ethanol-use mandate in 1977 required a 4.5% mixture of ethanol to gas. Current legislation requires an ethanol content of between 20 and 25 percent, with the executive branch having the flexibility to adjust levels within that band. In addition, mandates take priority over other uses and so when food consumers sit down at the dinner table next to ethanol, it is the biofuel that eats first.
  3. The eight Millennium Development Goals were created by the UN DevelopmentProgramme in September 2000. It committed nations to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty by setting out a series of time-bound targets, with a deadline of 2015. “Extreme poverty” describes those living on less than one dollar per day.
  4. Energy Information Agency, International Energy Outlook 2008, (EIA, 2008), http:// www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/highlights.html
  5. These include sugar cane, sugar beets, maize, switchgrass, soy bean, rapeseed,wheat, and many others.
  6. International Monetary Fund African Department, The Balance of Payments Impact of the Food and Fuel Price Shocks on Low-Income African Countries, (IMF, 2008), http:// www.imf.org/external/np/pp/eng/2008/063008a.pdf. Among the highest trade balance changes resulting from changes in the terms of trade of petroleum in 2008 are in Liberia, Ghana and Eritrea, at -11.1, -8.1 and -6.1 percent of 2007 GDP, respectively.
  7. Food and Agriculture Organization, Soaring Food Prices: Facts, Perspectives, Impacts and Actions Required. High Level Conference on World Food Security, June 3-5, 2008, (FAO, 2008), 17, http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/lib.nsf/db900sid/PANA-7FSG8E/$file/ FAO_jun2008.pdf?openelement
  8. South Africa in 2007 set a target of 2 percent penetration of liquid transport fuelmarket by 2013 (about 400 million liters per year), and exempts ethanol and biodiesel from 100 and 50 percent of levy taxes, respectively.
  9. Malaysia’s National Biofuel Policy of 2005 sets a blend goal of 5 percent biodieselfrom palm oil, establishes industry standards, and lays out incentives to encourage greater use.
  10. Matt Johnston and Tracey Holloway, A Global Comparison of National Biodiesel Production Potentials, (Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, 2006), http://www.sage.wisc.edu/energy/Biodiesel_Manuscript.pdf
  11. Bill Kovarik, Henry Ford, Charles F. Kettering and the Fuel of the Future, (Automotive History Review, 1998), 7-27, http://www.radford.edu/~wkovarik/papers/fuel.html. Around 1826 Samuel Morey developed the first internal combustion engine which ran on ethyl alcohol [ethanol] and turpentine. In 1860 Nicolas Otto also built an ethanol engine in 1860, choosing a fuel widely available in spirit lamps throughout Europe.
  12. C. Ford Runge and Benjamin Senauer, How Biofuels Could Starve the Poor, (Foreign Affairs, May/June 2007), http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20070501faessay86305/c-fordrunge-benjamin-senauer/how-biofuels-could-starve-the-poor.html
  13. White House, “Press Briefing on Food Aid by OMB Deputy Director Steve McMillin, CEA Chairman Ed Lazear, and Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs Dan Price,” http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/05/ 20080501-23.html [The U.S. President’s Council of Economic Advisors Chairman Ed Lazear gave the three percent figure at a press briefing on May 1, 2008]; Donald Mitchell, A Note on Rising Food Prices, (World Bank, 2008), 17, http://www-wds.worldbank.org/ external/default/WDSContentServer/IW3P/IB/2008/07/28/000020439_20080728103002/ Rendered/PDF/WP4682.pdf, [The 75 percent figure comes from this World Bank report]
  14. As people move out of poverty, they will begin to eat a richer diet of meat. Such a diet requires much more input than a vegetarian one. One weight unit (pound, kilogram) of chicken requires 2 units of grain to produce; one unit of pork requires six of grain; and one unit of beef requires 7 units of grain.
  15. First generation biofuels are produced by fermenting plant-derived sugars from suchcrops as corn and sugar beets. Second generation biofuels make use of the residual non-food parts of plants, commonly called cellulose, which contain complex carbohydrates that require advanced methods to extract before fermentation. Third generation biofuels are derived from algae and have a theoretical yield up to 30 times that of traditional biofuels.
  16. Michael Fleshman, Boosting African Farm Yields, (Africa Renewal, 2006), 10,  http://www.un.org/ecosocdev/geninfo/afrec/vol20no2/202-boosting-farm-yields.html
  17. Food and Agriculture Organization, Cassava for Food and Energy Security, (FAO, 2008), http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2008/1000899/index.html
  18. Joachim von Braun, R. K. Pachauri, The Promises and Challenges of Biofuels for the Poor in Developing Countries, (International Food Policy Research Institute, 2006), 7.
  19. UN Energy Programme, Sustainable Bioenergy: A Framework for Decision Makers, (UNEP, 2008), 33-35, http://esa.un.org/un-energy/pdf/susdev.Biofuels.FAO.pdf
  20. Timothy Searchinger et al., Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land-Use Change, (Science 5867, 2008), 1238-40.
  21. This is a significant point to be addressed to convince developed nations to get onboard with avoided deforestation mechanisms such as REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation), a hot topic in the negotiations for a post-Kyoto climate treaty. Countries need assurances that their efforts are not being undermined by losses elsewhere, indirectly caused by a project they have invested in.
  22. Louise O. Fresco, Biomass for Food or Fuel: Is There a Dilemma?, (Universiteit van Amsterdam, 2006).
  23. On a side note, agave is also being explored as an option for a biofuel crop producedon marginal land. While a strong prospect, some mischievous commentators have wryly noted that this could touch off ‘tequila riots’ much like the use of maize has touched off ‘tortilla riots.
  24. Louise O. Fresco, Biomass for Food or Fuel: Is There a Dilemma?, (Universiteit van Amsterdam, 2006).
  25. Bioact, A Closer Look at Africa’s ‘Green OPEC’, (Bioact, 2006), http://biopact.com/2006/08/ closer-look-at-africas-green-opec.html
  26. Duncan Miriri, “Kenya sugar, biofuel project stirs controversy,”Reuters, July 20, 2008, http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L14523234.htm
  27. International climate negotiators are currently working out the details of a post-Kyoto climate treaty which should be introduced at the COP15 climate meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark in December 2009.
Peter Hubbard studies International Energy and Environment Policy at the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. He received a B.S. in Physics and Mathematics and a B.A. in French Language from the University of Memphis, and served as a health and sanitation volunteer in Morocco in the United States Peace Corps. Currently Peter and a team of students are working on a project exploring biofuels options in South Africa on underutilized land.