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Friday, 20 May 2011

Do Biofuels Reduce Greenhouse Gases?

Technology Review
May 19, 2011

Greenhouse-gas emissions from biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, may be lower than many researchers have estimated, according to a new study. The findings could further fuel a debate over whether biofuels actually reduce greenhouse-gas emissions compared to gasoline, and if so, by how much.

Some recent studies have suggested that the indirect effects of biofuels production, such as higher food prices, could encourage farmers to clear forested land to grow more crops—thereby worsening climate change. At least one study suggested that the emissions resulting from such decisions would make biofuels even advanced biofuels made from cellulosic materials such as switchgrass worse for the environment than gasoline. These studies use economic analysis to predict the effect of future biofuels production on land use, while attempting to control for other factors that influence farmers, such as the amount of grain stocks on hand and changes in food demand.


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