U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Indirect Emissions of Biofuels Quantified
Published: February 16, 2010
Posted: March 04, 2010

A global biofuels program will lead to intense pressures on land supply and can actually increase greenhouse gas emissions from land-use change. In recently published research in Science, the direct and indirect effects of possible land-use change is explored in the context of a global cellulosic bio-energy program pursued over the 21st century using two DOE-funded models: a computable general equilibrium model of the global economy coupled with a process-based terrestrial biogeochemistry model. The analysis predicts that indirect land use effects will be responsible for substantially more carbon loss than will direct land use. Moreover, because of predicted increases in fertilizer use, N2O emissions will be even more important, in terms of warming potential, than the carbon loses.

Reference: Melillo, J., J. Reilly, D. Kicklighter, A. Gurgel, T. Cronin, S. Paltsev, B. Felzer, X. Wang, A. Sokolov and C. A. Schlosser, 2009. Indirect Emissions from Biofuels: How Important? Science 326: 1397-1399.

Contact: Bob Vallario, SC 23.1, (301) 903-5758
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Multisector Dynamics (formerly Integrated Assessment)
  • Research Area: Terrestrial Ecosystem Science
  • Research Area: Sustainable Biofuels and Bioproducts

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER


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