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UNEP Synthesis Report on Biomass Science Calls for More Sophisticated Approach to Biofuels Production

© UNEP16 October 2009: The United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management has published its first report, entitled “Towards Sustainable Production and Use of Resources: Assessing Biofuels.”

The report is based on a review of published research up to mid-2009 as well as the input of independent experts world-wide. It recognizes that the research that has accrued over recent years presents a complex and uncertain picture of the risks and benefits of biofuels. The UNEP synthesis report attempts to clarify the picture by providing an accessible assessment of the science available to date.

The report's main message is the context specificity of biofuels' costs and benefits, and therefore that simplistic approaches to managing biofuels production are unlikely to yield environmentally positive results. Considering not only biofuels for transport, but biomass as a whole, the report's chapters discuss, inter alia: the full life-cycle approach needed to completely account for the impacts of biofuels; the issue of land-use change; options for more efficient and sustainable production; and strategies to enhance resource productivity. [The report] [Press release]