The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Yves Le Bouthillier, Annette Cowie, Paul Martin and Heather McLeod-Kilmurray
Chapter 1: Environmental risks and opportunities of biofuels
Bioenergy refers to energy products derived from biomass – including heat, electricity and biofuels, the latter term referring to liquid fuels derived from biomass, particularly ethanol and biodiesel. Biofuels are generally used for transport, though they may also be used for generation of electricity. A few countries have a long history of biofuel use: in Brazil, ethanol from sugar cane has been promoted since 1975 (40 years ago). The production of biofuels has expanded dramatically in recent decades. In 2013, 87.2 billion litres of ethanol, 26.3 billion litres of biodiesel and 3 billion litres of hydro-treated vegetable oils were produced globally, representing 2.3% of the use of transport fuels worldwide. The major ethanol producers are the USA (50.3 billion litres), Brazil (25.5 billion litres), China (2.0 billion litres), Canada (1.8 billion litres) and France (1.0 billion litres), while the largest biodiesel producers are the USA (4.8 billion litres), Germany (3.1 billion litres), Argentina (2.9 billion litres), Brazil (2.3 billion litres), France (2.0 billion litres) and Indonesia (2.0 billion litres).