Date: March 30, 2012

Susan Tarka Sanchez, Life Cycle Associates, LLC, and an international team of collaborators authored a journal article that takes a critical look at the accounting methods currently utilized for determining land use emissions related to biofuel production. The article, called Accounting for Indirect Land Use Change in the Life Cycle Assessment of Biofuel Supply Chains, was published today, Friday March 30, 2012, in the Royal Society journal Interface.

The journal article gives insights into the calculation of land use emissions related to biofuel production using life cycle analysis (LCA). Potential problems with two approaches – attributional and consequential LCA – are identified and the potential use of a hybridized approach to estimate consequential and attributional LCA impacts from biofuels is explored.

The article also examines the difference in approach that U.S. and European policy makers take to estimate the land use emissions from biofuels. Based on that, the need to establish compatible and comparable accounting frameworks for indirect land use change between major biofuel trading blocs is emphasized. The article warns that: “Work is urgently required to understand and standardize the accounting frameworks before serious, and damaging, distortions are introduced to the trade in biomass for biofuels, for heat and electricity, and by extension to the food-based commodity markets.” The full article can be accessed online through the Royal Society journal Interface. For questions about the article, contact Life Cycle Associates, LLC.