Avoiding Bioenergy Competition for Food Crops and Land

Sectors and Themes
Agriculture
Energy
Forestry and Other Land Use
Scale
National
Expertise Level
Generalist
Practitioner
Resource Type
Guidance and Frameworks
Language
English
Developer or Source
World Resources Institute (WRI)

Installment 9 of Creating a Sustainable Food Future shows that any dedicated use of land for growing bioenergy inherently comes at the cost of not using that land for growing food or animal feed, or for storing carbon.

It recommends several policy changes to phase out forms of bioenergy that use crops or that otherwise make dedicated use of land.

A growing quest for bioenergy exacerbates the competition for land. In the past decade, governments have pushed to increase the use of bioenergy—the use of recently living plants for energy—by using crops for transportation biofuels and increasingly by harvesting trees for power generation. Although increasing energy supplies has provided one motivation, the belief that bioenergy use will help combat climate change has been another. However, bioenergy that entails the dedicated use of land to grow the energy feedstock will undercut efforts to combat climate change and to achieve a sustainable food future.

This resource provides the following policy recommendations:

- Governments should fix flaws in the accounting of the carbon dioxide consequences of bioenergy in climate treaties and in many national- and state-level laws.
- Governments should phase out the varied subsidies and regulatory requirements for transportation biofuels made from crops or from sources that make dedicated use of land.
- Governments should make ineligible from low-carbon fuel standards biofuels made from crops or from the dedicated use of land.
- Governments should exclude bioenergy feedstocks that rely on the dedicated use of land from laws designed to encourage or require renewable energy.
- Governments should maintain current limits on the share of ethanol in gasoline blends.

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