Briefing paper: Accounting whole life cycle bioenergy emissions within the UNFCCC emission accounting framework

Bioenergy is an attractive renewable energy option for many countries as it is compatible with many elements of existing energy infrastructure, and can be easily transported and stored in the form of biomass and fuels.

For bioenergy to be a viable low-carbon renewable energy option and replace fossil fuel generation, it is fundamental that the energy generated provides genuine reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with the mitigation effort to stay well below 1.5°C.

This briefing paper looks at accounting greenhouse gas emissions for bioenergy, and highlights the following:

  • At each stage within biomass resource supply chains and bioenergy processes, there will be potential for flux of emissions to and from the atmosphere.
  • Bioenergy can provide low-carbon energy where there is a close balance between carbon captured from the atmosphere during biomass growth and carbon released over different stages of a given bioenergy pathway.
  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s emission accounting framework provides a comprehensive methodology to measure, report and verify emissions from bioenergy.
  • Emissions are accounted and reported within a series of greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories that are divided into sectors grouped around key processes, sources and sinks: Energy; Industrial Processes and Product Use (IPPU); Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU); Waste; and Other.
  • In GHG accounting terms, bioenergy may provide an attractive option for countries producing fuels for bioenergy, with large capture or carbon accounted in the AFOLU GHG sector inventory, in addition to being an attractive alternative for countries generating bioenergy where high GHG emitting fossil fuels are replaced, benefiting the Energy sector inventory.

Download the full paper below.

Accounting whole life cycle bioenergy emissions within the UNFCCC emission accounting framework

This briefing paper was written by Andrew Welfle from the University of Manchester, with Mirjam Röder,  Aston University, and Sam Cooper and Marcelle McManus from the University of Bath.

Please note, this briefing paper was updated on 1 June 2020 to clarify certain points.

Webinar on temporal and accounting aspects of greenhouse gas emissions

The webinar will introduce key findings from this paper and another on the temporal aspects of GHG emissions.

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