Greenhouse gas balances and land use changes associated with the planned expansion (to 2020) of the sugarcane ethanol industry in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Journal article, 2014
Brazil is expected to increase its sugarcane production in the coming years. Almost 60% of the Brazilian sugarcane production in 2012 was situated in the state of São Paulo, where production is expected to increase further. This paper reports estimated direct land use changes and greenhouse gas balances (including soil carbon stock changes) associated with expanding production of sugarcane-based ethanol in São Paulo state. Geographic information about the location of existing and planned sugarcane mills and existing land use in these locations is used. Almost all of the sugarcane expansion in 2004-2008 took place on roughly equal shares of cropland or pasture land. The locations of the planned mills indicate that most new sugarcane might be planted on cropland unless the sugarcane is sourced from longer distances than has typically been the case. These results confirm that sugarcane expansion does not cause much direct deforestation but contrast with the view that direct competition for prime cropland is generally avoided since sugarcane is mostly planted on extensively used pasture lands. Analyses of greenhouse gas emissions and savings support the view that expansion of sugarcane ethanol in Brazil will likely bring about substantial savings - unless the expansion causes significant emissions associated with indirect land use change. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.