GHG emissions from Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC)


Estimation of direct and indirect land-use change environmental impact of biofuel pathways

National and international concerns about energy security and climate change mitigation have boomed up the production of biofuels. Many countries are establishing biofuel mandates and others are planning production strategies to supply this demand. From the point of view of a biofuel producing country, it is crucial to plan how and where the biofuel feedstock will be produced to reduce negative impacts on food security, environmental performance and socio-economical development. Direct and indirect land-use changes are a key factor to assess the sustainabiility of biofuels production. This work aims at developing a policy-oriented model to evaluate the environmental impact of direct and indirect land-use changes produced by a specific biofuel production strategy at the country level. The tool is intended as an expert system that can help decision makers to select the best biofuel production strategy.


The objectives of the present research are:

– Characterize the influence of biofuels demand on indirect land-use change
– Determine the influence of biofuel production strategies on iLUC

– Determine the impact of land-use change on the environmental performance of biofuels
– Identify the main variables influencing direct and indirect land-use change


– Multi-agent approach to link land-use environmental indicators with actors behaviour
– Expert system development to estimate the environmental footprint of land-use change induced by biofuels development 
– Fuzzy logic modeling of biofuel production strategies at the national scale
– Life cycle assesment of biofuel pathways



Estimation of GHG emissions from indirect land use change: Review of methodological approaches

Accounting for ILUC in biofuels production

The present report reviews the current effort made worldwide to address this issue. A description of land-use concepts is first provided followed by a classification of ILUC sources. Then, a discussion on the implications of including ILUC emissions in the GHG balance of biofuel pathways and a review of methodologies being developed to quantify indirect land-use change are presented. The question of methodological choices in LCA to account for ILUC is adressed. The approaches to account for this effect in carbon reporting initiatives are discussed and finally, recommendations and further research work are described.

Estimating greenhouse gas emissions from indirect land-use change in biofuels production: Concepts and exploratory analysis for soybean-based biodiesel production

Panichelli L, E Gnansounou, Journal of Scientific & Industrial Research, Vol. 67, November 2008, pp.  1017-1030

This paper aims to 1) review the state-of-the-art of accounting for indirect effects in biofuels production and their influence on the greenhouse gas balance of a biofuel pathway, 2) present a model to estimate and optimize GHG emissions from LUC and 3) estimate potential GHG emissions for the case of soybean-based biodiesel production, as an example. Indirect land-use concepts and a classification of indirect land-use sources are proposed. Then a methodological framework to quantify GHG emissions is discussed and applied to the case study. Different scenarios to achieve the demand are proposed and their implications related to the ILUC are determined. Using a system-wide approach and a non-linear programming (NLP) model, the GHG emissions are evaluated in terms of carbon pay back time and optimized based on the soybean supply strategy to produce biodiesel.

Workshop on biofuels and Land Use Change, São Paulo, Brazil, 20-21 November 2008

background paper

The “Biofuels and Land-Use Change” workshop aims to provide the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels a better understanding of local drivers of land-use change due to biofuels productions and how these drivers can be better accounted in global macro-economic models.
In this background document existing methods, models and applications have been reviewed. We draw up a number of questions and research topics that may be the subject of further research and clarification.