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Incoherent indirect land use change calculation models mislead policy makers


03 Nov 2010


Climate & Environment

Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) calls for review of ILUC modeling work by the Commission, urging for scientific robustness

Brussels, 03 November 2010 - Following the recent stakeholders' consultation organized by the European Commission to address the issue of indirect land use change (ILUC), the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) calls on the Commission to review modeling work and ensure scientific robustness to calculate ILUC.

Developing the science to calculate and understand ILUC has become crucial. "The role and limits of current models do not give a sound overview of the level of ILUC that can be attributed specifically to biofuels," says Emmanuel Desplechin, Chief Representative in the European Union for UNICA. "While giving a positive verdict on some energy crops, such as Brazilian sugarcane ethanol, the studies that have been commissioned in Europe so far have been conducted without much input from international experts and have led to incomplete reports."

According to UNICA, discrepancies in recent results show that science cannot accurately measure the magnitude of the ILUC phenomenon due to biofuels expansion. "Any public policy based on such highly debatable results would be easily challengeable at the World Trade Organisation," adds Desplechin.

Scientific accuracy is imperative but it is not enough. If the goal is to address and limit the source of emissions the EU should recognize the efforts made in some countries, such as Brazil, to establish sound land use management practices and encourage use of land which is both available and suitable for crops for biofuels without displacing other crops. The Brazilian Agro-Ecological Zoning for mapping sugarcane aims at managing sugarcane land expansion and ensuring protection of sensitive areas at the same time. These types of land use planning exercises should be encouraged as they allow the industry to identify land suitable for biofuels feedstock and minimise the risks of indirect adverse effects, not limited to emissions alone.

Click here to see UNICA's response to the European Commission public consultation on ILUC.


The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) represents the top producers of sugar and ethanol in the country's South-Central region, especially the state of Sao Paulo, which accounts for about 60% of the country's sugarcane harvest and of total ethanol production. UNICA develops position papers, statistics and specific research in support of Brazil's sugar, ethanol and bioelectricity sectors. In 2009, Brazil produced an estimated 598 million metric tons of sugarcane, which yielded 33 million tons of sugar and 25.5 billion liters of ethanol, making it the number-one sugarcane grower and sugar producer in the world, and the second-largest ethanol producer on the planet, behind the United States.



Amandine de Coster / +32 2 894 90 17 /


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