That’s the argument from a new paper published in Science today, written by Princeton University’s Tim Searchinger and others. The upshot? Clearing out forests to use the wood for bioenergy clearly has an environmental cost, but that’s simply not accounted for in any of the prevailing climate-change programs. Kyoto, the European cap-and-trade plan, and the House climate bill all treat bioenergy as carbon-neutral; nobody counts the effect of disappearing forests.
In my long blog post earlier this morning, I briefly alluded to the fact that proposed Canadian climate change legislation explicitly excludes land use. Well, bad idea! I am surprised this is being trumpeted as a major new finding, hasn’t it been obvious for at least the last few years that biofuel carbon neutrality is very dependent on how land use patterns change?