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The findings of the first report by the UN Environment Programme’s International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management revealed that while some biofuels go a long way toward lowering greenhouse gas emissions, others may actually boost emissions. “Biofuels are neither a panacea nor a pariah but like all technologies they represent both opportunities and challenges,” said UN Environment Programme (UNEP) executive director Achim Steiner to the Environment News Service (ENS) news agency.
Entitled “Towards Sustainable Production and Use of Resources: Assessing Biofuels”, the report is based on a review of published research through mid-2009 as well as input from independent experts from around the world.
The report found that a biofuel’s environmental benefits depend a great deal on whether it is based on crops or production residues and waste.
While the sugarcane-based ethanol in Brazil is considered to benefit the climate because it uses wastes to power the processing and generate electricity, the emissions impact of bioethanol from corn is less certain.
In some cases, switching from gasoline to bioethanol can cut CO2 emissions by 60 percent. But in other cases, using ethanol can actually raise carbon emissions by 5 percent.
Read the full article here.