Bioenergy production and sustainable development: science base for policy-making remains limited
Journal article, 2016

The possibility of using bioenergy as a climate change mitigation measure has sparked a discussion of whether and how bioenergy production contributes to sustainable development. We undertook a systematic review of the scientific literature to illuminate this relationship and found a limited scientific basis for policy-making. Our results indicate that knowledge on the sustainable development impacts of bioenergy production is concentrated in a few well-studied countries, focuses on environmental and economic impacts, and mostly relates to dedicated agricultural biomass plantations. The scope and methodological approaches in studies differ widely and only a small share of the studies sufficiently reports on context and/or baseline conditions, which makes it difficult to get a general understanding of the attribution of impacts. Nevertheless we identified regional patterns of positive or negative impacts for all categories – environmental, economic, institutional, social and technological. In general, economic and technological impacts were more frequently reported as positive, while social and environmental impacts were more frequently reported as negative (with the exception of impacts on direct substitution of GHG emission from fossil fuel). More focused and transparent research is needed to validate these patterns and develop a strong science underpinning for establishing policies and governance agreements that prevent/mitigate negative and promote positive impacts from bioenergy production.

food security

mitigation

forestry

agriculture

bioenergy

sustainable development

Author

C. Robledo-Abad

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH)

Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation

H.J. Althaus

Foundation for Global Sustainability (ffgs)

Lifecycle Consulting Althaus

Göran Berndes

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

S. Bolwig

Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

E. Corbera

Institut de Ciencia i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA)-UAB

F. Creutzig

Technische Universität Berlin

J. Garcia-Ulloa

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH)

A. Geddes

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH)

J. S. Gregg

Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

H. Haberl

Alpen-Adria Universitaet (AAU)

S. Hanger

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH)

R. Harper

Murdoch University

C. Hunsberger

Western University

R. K. Larsen

Stockholm Environment Institute

C. Lauk

Alpen-Adria Universitaet (AAU)

S. Leitner

Alpen-Adria Universitaet (AAU)

J. Lilliestam

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH)

H. Lotze-Campen

Humboldt University of Berlin

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

B. Muys

KU Leuven

Maria Nordborg

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

Maria Ölund

University of Gothenburg

B. Orlowsky

A. Popp

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

J. Portugal-Pereira

Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

J. Reinhard

Forschungsinstitution fur Materialwissenschaften Und Technologie Eth-Bereichs

L. Scheiffle

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

P. Smith

University of Aberdeen

GCB Bioenergy

1757-1693 (ISSN) 1757-1707 (eISSN)

Vol. 9 3 541-556

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance

Energy

Subject Categories

Other Social Sciences

Energy Systems

Environmental Sciences

DOI

10.1111/gcbb.12338

PubMed

28331552

More information

Latest update

9/6/2018 1