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Conquering space and time: the challenge of emissions from land use change

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The EU Renewable Energy Directive (EU-RED) abandons the Kyoto Protocol restriction of responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions to those occurring within national borders, it makes EU bioenergy users responsible for supply-chain emissions throughout the world. However, problems arise from the EU-RED's continuation of the Kyoto Protocol land-typesplus-activities approach and disregard for the time lag between emissions from forest-sourced biomass and compensating removals of CO2 from the atmosphere. The land-types-plus-activities approach leads to omissions, such as emissions from forests that remain forests. While not a major issue for biofuels, this seriously underestimates the CO2 profile of forest-sourced biomass for heat and power. The EU-RED's failure to address the time lag means that bioenergy approved by EU-RED can be used to meet targets even though significant increases in emissions occur during the time horizon of the targets. These problems can be resolved through a well-designed eligibility formula. A formula covering timing of increases and losses in all carbon pools would ensure that bioenergy reduces greenhouse gas emissions without needing to prohibit actions on specific land types.

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