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International expertise will help build consensus as EC begins consultation period on Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC)


19 Aug 2010


Climate & Environment

Brazilian sugarcane ethanol industry calls for transparency and solid scientific consensus in discussion on ILUC   

BRUSSELS, 03 August 2010 - The European Commission's consultation on Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC), which began on 30 July, is right to encourage the participation of international experts, in an effort to reach a strong and transparent scientific consensus on how to assess the impact of ILUC and possibly address it in European legislation. The opinion came from the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) as the consultation period, which concludes at the end of October, got under way.

"Recent modeling exercises on ILUC resulting from biofuels production have provided very heterogeneous results. We cannot risk eliminating a valid solution for transport on the basis of studies which include assumptions and conclusions that are not consistent. We need to reward countries that take concrete steps to protect high carbon stock areas, while promoting a legally-binding multilateral agreement to eliminate deforestation" said UNICA's Chief Representative in the European Union, Emmanuel Desplechin.

Greenhouse gas emissions from ILUC relate to the unintended consequence of releasing more carbon emissions due to land use changes around the world, induced by the displacement of existing crop production. The consultation is part of the Commission's plan to ensure that biofuels, which count towards the EU's 10% target for renewable energy use in road transport fuels, are environmentally sustainable.

UNICA will take part in the exercise launched by the Commission and will also encourage Brazilian experts, who have actively engaged in public consultations on ILUC in the United States, to send their comments on the studies released by the Commission.

Brazil spearheading sustainable biofuel production

EU sustainability criteria are already in place in routine operational practices of the Brazilian sugarcane industry. According to UNICA, concrete actions taken in Brazil to reduce deforestation and protect carbon rich habitats are a best practice case study for Europe. Collaboration between government and industry in Brazil has generated policies that have led to a 75% decrease in deforestation in the so-called legal Amazon region between 2004 and 2009.

Moreover, the Sugarcane Agro-Ecological Zoning introduced last year by the Brazilian government forbids sugarcane expansion in areas rich in biodiversity, including the Amazon, the Wetlands in Central Brazil and the Upper Paraguayan Basin. Expansion that requires the removal of any native vegetation is also forbidden, including in regions within the Cerrado grasslands.


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 tonnes of sugarcane, which yielded 33 million tonnes of sugar and 25.5 billion litres 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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