Study: U.S. biofuels not to blame for Indonesia and Malaysia deforestation

phys.org | 9/4/2019 | Staff
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Since 1990, the United States has ramped up its production of biofuels—to about 16 billion gallons of ethanol and 1.6 billion gallons of biodiesel in 2017. At the same time, production of palm oil has increased nearly sixfold, mainly for food production, and with it significant deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia.

That overlap has led some analysts to blame the United States for deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia, suggesting that the expansion in palm oil production is driven by biofuel production in U.S. But a Purdue University study shows that only a scant fraction of the deforestation in those countries can be pinned on U.S. biofuel production and policy.

Analysis - Percent - Land - Indonesia - Malaysia

"Our analysis shows that less than 1 percent of the land cleared in Indonesia and Malaysia can be tied to U.S. biofuel production," said Farzad Taheripour, a research associate professor of agricultural economics at Purdue. "The amount is not significant. We're talking about thousands of hectares amidst the millions that have been cleared for oil palm plantations and production of other commodities in Malaysia and Indonesia."

Taheripour and the late Wally Tyner, who was the James and Lois Ackerman Chair in Purdue's Department of Agricultural Economics, published their results in the journal Biotechnology for Biofuels based on analysis from the GTAP-BIO model, a Purdue-led economic model of the global economy available to researchers around the world for quantitative analysis of international economic-environmental-energy issues. The model included a more comprehensive look at demand for all types of vegetable oils and fats impacted by U.S. biofuel policies rather than focusing on only soy and palm as past studies have done.

Analyses - Modeling - Framework - Oils - Types

"Those analyses that limit their modeling framework to only palm and soy oils and ignore other types of vegetable oils and fats provide misleading information and exaggerate about the land use implications...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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