Saturday, November 26, 2011

UNEP report on "Bridging the Emissions Gap" - lots of biomass and biofuel

The UNEP press release is at


This report by UNEP is to try and work out how to cut the amount of global carbon emissions in 2020 to the level where temperature should not rise by over 2 degree C.

It mentions biofuels for road transport and for aviation (it does not think they will be used much for shipping). Also biomass for electricty.

Some of the paras mentioning biofuels are copied below:

Biofuel (page 40 of

Emissions cuts potential for transport (excluding aviation and shipping):

Biofuels (Aviation).
Low-carbon alternatives to aviation kerosene
may include biofuels, although associated indirect
emissions must be considered. Lifecycle reductions of
up 80% have been claimed (IATA, 2009); the emissions
associated with land-use change vary significantly but
may reduce carbon-savings or even lead to an increase
(Stratton et al., 2010). This chapter, however, follows IPCC
guidelines in accounting for indirect emissions elsewhere,
i.e. we assume biofuels deliver a 100% reduction in
aviation (and shipping) CO2 emissions.

The contribution of biofuels has been estimated by CCC
(2009) to be ¡Ü2% by 2030 under what was described as
a ¡°likely¡± scenario, ~3% for an ¡°optimistic¡± scenario, and
5% for a ¡°speculative¡± scenario. Similarly, a 2% market
penetration of biofuels by 2020 was deemed feasible by
Novelli (2011).

Biofuels (Road transport)
According to a preliminary analysis by the International
Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), the potential
to reduce emissions from the transportation sector
(excluding aviation and shipping, see Chapter 4) by 2020
is about 1.7 GtCO2e. The majority of this reduction could
come from technology options, including expanded
use of biofuels and improved vehicle efficiency (ICCT,
forthcoming). A breakdown of this potential is as follows:
on-road: 0.4 GtCO2e; biofuels: 0.15 GtCO2e; modal
shift: 0.8 GtCO2e; activity reduction: 0.25 GtCO2e.

and biomass at

One scenario expects a contribution in 2020 of 20 EJ from
¡°biomass with CCS¡±, and another a contribution of 26 EJ
by non-biomass renewables.


The share of total primary energy from biomass in
2020 ranges from 7 to 17%, compared with 9 to 12% in
2005. The reduced use of biomass in the short-term in the
GEA-efficiency scenario is due to the successful adoption
of energy access policies and the resulting substitution
of traditional biomass by modern and clean fuels in the
developing world.


Producing up to 17% of total primary energy in 2020
from biomass. (As compared to about 10.5% in 2005).

Background to the report:

What 2020 emission levels are consistent with the 2¡ãC
and 1.5¡ãC limits?

The report found that if global emissions do not exceed
44 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (ranging from
39 to 44 GtCO2e) in 2020 and global emissions are rapidly
reduced afterwards; then it is ¡°likely¡± that global warming
will be limited to 2¡ãC. A ¡°likely¡± chance has greater than
66% probability.

What are the expected global emissions in 2020, if the
pledges announced by countries are fulfilled?

According to The Emissions Gap Report, if emissions
pledges announced by countries are fulfilled, global
emissions are expected to increase to between 49 GtCO2e
according to the most ambitious pledges and measured
under strict accounting rules; and 53 GtCO2e in 2020
according to the least ambitious pledges and more lenient
accounting rules. Business-as-usual (BAU) emissions in
2020 are estimated to be 56 GtCO2e (ranging from 54 to
60 GtCO2e).

How big is the emissions gap?

The gap would range from 5-9 GtCO2e, depending
on how the pledges were implemented and which
accounting rules would be decided upon within the UN
Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Double counting of international emissions offsets could
increase the gap by up to 1.3 GtCO2e and there are no
rules preventing this. As a reference point, if no pledges
were acted on (i.e. BAU conditions), the gap would be 12

What do the pledges suggest about future temperature

The Emissions Gap Report used emissions pathways
from Integrated Assessment Models and calculated
the expected temperatures from those pathways.
Pathways that had the level of emissions expected from
the Copenhagen Accord pledges in 2020 were found
to imply a temperature increase of between 2.5 to 5¡ãC
before the end of the century. The lower bound was the
case in which emissions are fairly stringently controlled
after 2020, and the upper bound was the case in which
emissions were more weakly or not controlled.

How can the gap be minimized and what are the policy
options to do so?

The Emissions Gap Report found that countries can
reduce the gap from 9 to 5 GtCO2e by adopting their
higher ambition pledges (a gain of around 2-3 GtCO2e)
and by the international community agreeing to the more
stringent accounting rules for implementing the pledges
(a gain of 1-2 GtCO2e). That said, a gap of 5 GtCO2e would
still remain.


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Biofuels are a wide range of fuels which are in some way derived from biomass.

Your idea?