Journal Article

On the Global Limits of Bioenergy and Land Use for Climate Change Mitigation

  • Jeremy Woods
  • Helena Chum
  • Nicole Kalas
  • Nilay Shah
  • Frank Rosillo-Calle
| May 2017


Across energy, agricultural and forestry landscapes, the production of biomass for energy has emerged as a controversial driver of land-use change. We present a novel, simple methodology, to probe the potential global sustainability limits of bioenergy over time for energy provision and climate change mitigation using a complex-systems approach for assessing land-use dynamics. Primary biomass that could provide between 70 EJ per year and 360 EJ per year, globally, by 2050 was simulated in the context of different land-use futures, food diet patterns and climate change mitigation efforts. Our simulations also show ranges of potential greenhouse gas emissions for agriculture, forestry and other land uses by 2050, including not only above-ground biomass-related emissions, but also from changes in soil carbon, from as high as 24 GtCO2eq per year to as low as -21 GtCO2eq per year, which would represent a significant source of negative emissions. Based on the modelling simulations, the discussions offer novel insights about bioenergy as part of a broader integrated system. Whilst there are sustainability limits to the scale of bioenergy provision, they are dynamic over time, being responsive to land management options deployed worldwide.

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For Academic Citation: Strapasson, Alexandre, Jeremy Woods, Helena Chum, Nicole Kalas, Nilay Shah and Frank Rosillo-Calle. On the Global Limits of Bioenergy and Land Use for Climate Change Mitigation.” , (May 2017) .

The Authors