Quality of data for estimating GHG emissions in biofuel regulations is unknown: A review of default values related to sugarcane and corn ethanol

Journal Article (Journal Article)

European and United States' (U.S.) regulatory schemes mandate the use of biofuels based on estimates of life cycle GHG emissions that indicate their environmental superiority compared with conventional fuels. This paper analyzes the quality of the activity data used in calculating these estimates for Brazilian sugarcane and U.S. corn ethanol, in terms of completeness, reliability, and transparency. The findings demonstrate that it is impossible to determine the completeness of the data because the regulation's texts and related documents, and their sources fail to provide information on the representativeness or origins of the data. Moreover, there is no transparency about the sample from which data is extracted. To obtain this information it is necessary to review the literary sources referenced in the regulation's documents. Among the 37 sources of data examined in this analysis, 23 are no longer available, and only 3 sources contain information allowing for the characterization of the adequacy of the sample. In addition, none of the data items analyzed were subject to a verification process. These findings highlight the urgent need to modify biofuel regulation to set minimum standards for data quality and the reporting of data sources, paying particular attention to default activity data.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bicalho, T; Sauer, I; Patiño-Echeverri, D

Published Date

  • December 1, 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 239 /

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0959-6526

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.117903

Citation Source

  • Scopus