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Report highlights benefits of brazilian sugarcane ethanol, confirms highest emissions savings


29 Mar 2010



International Food Research Policy Institute tells European Commission that Brazilian sugarcane ethanol saves the most greenhouse gas emissions, even considering indirect land use changes.

Brussels, March 29, 2010 – A landmark report by the International Food Research Policy Institute (IFPRI) titled ”Global Trade and Environmental Impact of the EU Biofuels Mandate" has concluded that more open trade in renewable fuels will enable Europe’s biofuels policy to deliver on its commitment to reduce carbon in transport, mainly because the most emission-efficient biofuel will be utilized: Brazilian sugarcane-based ethanol, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions by about 90% compared to petrol.

“The report, prepared for the European Commission, shows that Brazilian sugarcane ethanol production will have virtually no impact on food prices, is highly competitive on the European market and provides the most significant reduction in greenhouse gases (GHG),” says UNICA’s Chief Representative in the European Union, Emmanuel Desplechin.

UNICA welcomed the Commission’s efforts to engage independent experts in its assessments but called for improvements in the current analysis. “The report currently contains a certain number of inaccuracies, so once these are corrected, we anticipate even higher benefits resulting from the use of Brazilian sugarcane ethanol. For example, the type of land for sugarcane expansion highlighted in the report does not take into consideration the agro-ecological zoning for sugarcane in Brazil, which prevents cane from expanding into any type of native vegetation,” Desplechin added.

A 2008 study published by The Netherlands’ Wageningen University forecast that about 62% of the expansion of sugarcane in South-Central Brazil, the heart of the country’s sugarcane harvesting region, would take place primarily on pasture land, while 37,8% would happen in lands previously occupied by other crops. The projection covered the period from 2008 to 2018.

As Europe progresses towards workable solutions to reduce global climate gases, one of the world’s biggest challenges, UNICA is urging the European Commission to engage in a comprehensive stakeholder consultation process, to ensure accuracy of data, multiplicity of positions and constructive recommendations for improvement.

“An open and transparent consultation process will enable European policy makers to reach decisions that meet equally the interest of markets, consumers and the environment,” Desplechin said. “As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the State of California have recognized, Brazilian sugarcane ethanol is an advanced, low carbon biofuel that dramatically reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainably-produced, sugarcane ethanol’s environmental performance can reduce Europe’s carbon footprint and help meet the 10% target of renewable energy use in its transport sector,” Desplechin concluded.

The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) represents the top producers of sugar and ethanol in the country’s South-Central region, the heart of the sugarcane industry. With over 120 member companies, UNICA provides information on the sector, including statistics and specific research, and enters into dialogue with stakeholders in support of Brazil’s sugarcane, ethanol and bioelectricity sectors.


Amandine de Coster / +32 2 894 90 17 /


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