The report's findings support the efforts of the Biofuture Platform Members to promote the bioeconomy

IPCC Latest Release: Special Report on Climate Change and Land

September, 10th, 2019

On August 8, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its “Special Report on Climate Change and Land,” which addresses the interconnections between the phenomenon of climate change and land and its various uses.

The report’s findings support the efforts of the members of the Biofuture Platform to promote the bioeconomy, in particular modern, sustainable bioenergy. The IPCC report highlights that bioenergy, when developed sustainably and in the appropriate environment and context, has high potential for replacing polluting energy sources and removing carbon from the atmosphere. When combined with advanced technologies such as Carbon Sequestration and Storage (CCS), bioenergy is the most powerful land-based response option available to achieve negative GHG emissions.

The Summary for Policymakers (SPM) presents a fairly balanced representation of the challenges associated with the massive scale-up of bioenergy production and use, which is recognized as necessary according to most IPCC’s climate change mitigation scenarios. The adopted approach includes both a quantitative (“high level implementation”) as well as a qualitative (“best practice implementation”) assessment of the issue.

The report projects that several million km2 of additional land would be required for bioenergy if the extreme scenario is considered, in which the calculated worldwide maximum technical potential of bioenergy is implemented so as to deliver the maximum of its climate change mitigation potential. In that extreme scenario, there will be increasing pressures and competition for limited natural resources across different uses and goals.

Qualitatively the report also recognizes that the effects of bioenergy depend on the scale of deployment, the type of bioenergy feedstock, which other response options are included (i.e. the integration of bioenergy systems within broader agroforestry and waste-management systems), and where bioenergy is grown, including prior land use and indirect land use change emissions.

For example, limiting bioenergy production to marginal lands or abandoned cropland, or to integrated food, fiber, and energy agro-forestry systems would have negligible effects on biodiversity and food security, and would potentially bring co-benefits for fighting land degradation and land desertification.

It should be highlighted that bioenergy risks and potential trade-offs are associated with misuse and poorly implemented land management and practices, while positive effects and co-benefits can emerge and negative impacts mitigated when bioenergy is properly managed, with well-articulated policies, production practices and technologies.