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Study: Biofuels Reduce GHGs by 123.5M Tons

December 15, 2009

TORONTO --- A new study concludes that world biofuels production in 2009 has reduced global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 123.5 million tons, representing an average reduction of 57 percent compared to the emissions that would have occurred from the production and use of equal quantities of petroleum fuels.

The study was conducted by (S&T)2 Consultants Inc., an energy and environmental consulting firm, and commissioned by the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance, a biofuels trade association. 

"This landmark report proves yet again that biofuels production and use is already playing a vital, yet too often overlooked, role in reducing harmful GHG emissions around the globe," said Bliss Baker, a spokesperson for the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance. "In light of the ongoing United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, today's report is evidence that biofuels are and must continue to be on the front line of the climate change fight." 

The report's findings included:

  • World biofuel production has surpassed 100 billion liters of annual production in 2009. After accounting for energy contents, this is displacing 1.15 million barrels of crude oil per day, which creates approximately 215 million tons of GHG emissions annually. 
  • In 2009, world ethanol production of 73.7 billion liters is estimated to reduce GHG emissions by 87.6 million tons -- approximately the same as the total GHG emissions reported for Austria in 2007. 
  • With respect to biodiesel, forecast global production of 16.4 billion liters will reduce GHG emissions by 35.9 million tons -- greater than the GHG emissions reported for Croatia in 2007. 
  • The combined GHG emissions reduction from global ethanol and biodiesel production of 123.5 million tons represents an average reduction of 57 percent compared to the emissions that would have occurred from the production and use of equal quantities of petroleum fuels. This is equal to the national GHG emissions of Belguim or Greece, or the combined emissions of Monaco, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania and Croatia.

The study used a "life cycle assessment" approach to estimate global GHG emissions reduction achieved through the production and use of biofuels from "cradle-to-grave," including the acquisition of raw materials, manufacture, transport, use, maintenance and final disposal. 

The full study, titled GHG Emission Reductions from World Biofuel Production and Use, can be downloaded at Production data were compiled by FO Lichts. 

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