Global Bioenergy Partnership publishes report on 24 sustainability indicators for bioenergy: electricity, heat and transport
The Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP) has published its report on sustainability indicators for bioenergy. (Earlier post.) The report represents the first global, government-level consensus on sustainability indicators for bioenergy and is intended as a resource in helping countries assess and develop sustainable production and use of bioenergy for electricity, heat and transport.
The report features 24 sustainability indicators, each developed with three parts: a name, a short description, and a multi-page methodology sheet that provides in-depth information needed to evaluate the indicator. The indicators take a holistic approach to assessing many important aspects of the intersection of bioenergy and sustainability, including greenhouse gas emissions, biological diversity, the price and supply of a national food basket, access to energy, economic development and energy security.
Each methodology sheet:
Describes how the indicator relates to relevant themes of sustainability and how the indicator contributes towards assessing sustainability at the national level.
Outlines the approach for collecting and analyzing the data needed to evaluate the indicator and for making relevant comparisons to other energy options or agricultural systems.
Provides information on data limitations and highlights potential bottlenecks to data acquisition.
Highlights relevant international and national processes with links to publicly available data sources in an extensive reference section.
Japan has already tested the GBEP indicators, and other Partners have expressed a willingness to do the same. In the meantime, the Partnership is proceeding with piloting projects in Indonesia, Colombia and Ghana.
GBEP developed its work on sustainability indicators under three pillars: environmental, social and economic.
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Environmental pillar. GBEP considers the following themes relevant, and these guided the development of indicators under this pillar:
Lifecycle GHG emissions. Lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from bioenergy production and use, as per the methodology chosen nationally or at community level, and reported using the GBEP Common Methodological Framework for GHG Lifecycle Analysis of Bioenergy “Version One”.
Soil quality. Percentage of land for which soil quality, in particular in terms of soil organic carbon, is maintained or improved out of total land on which bioenergy feedstock is cultivated or harvested.
Harvest levels of wood resources. Annual harvest of wood resources by volume and as a percentage of net growth or sustained yield, and the percentage of the annual harvest used for bioenergy.
Emissions of non- GHG air pollutants, including air toxics. Emissions of non-GHG air pollutants, including air toxics, from bioenergy feedstock production, processing, transport of feedstocks, intermediate products and end products, and use; and in comparison with other energy sources.
Water use and efficiency. Water withdrawn from nationally-determined watershed(s) for the production and processing of bioenergy feedstocks, expressed as the percentage of total actual renewable water resources (TARWR) and as the percentage of total annual water withdrawals (TAWW), disaggregated into renewable and non-renewable water sources.
Volume of water withdrawn from nationally-determined watershed(s) used for the production and processing of bioenergy feedstocks per unit of bioenergy output, disaggregated into renewable and non-renewable water sources.
Water quality. Pollutant loadings to waterways and bodies of water attributable to fertilizer and pesticide application for bioenergy feedstock cultivation, and expressed as a percentage of pollutant loadings from total agricultural production in the watershed.
Pollutant loadings to waterways and bodies of water attributable to bioenergy processing effluents, and expressed as a percentage of pollutant loadings from total agricultural processing effluents in the watershed.
Biological diversity in the landscape. Area and percentage of nationally recognized areas of high biodiversity value or critical ecosystems converted to bioenergy production.
Area and percentage of the land used for bioenergy production where nationally recognized invasive species, by risk category, are cultivated.
Area and percentage of the land used for bioenergy production where nationally recognized conservation methods are used.
Land use and land- use change related to bioenergy feedstock production. Total area of land for bioenergy feedstock production, and as compared to total national surface and agricultural and managed forest land area.
Percentages of bioenergy from yield increases, residues, wastes and degraded or contaminated land.
Net annual rates of conversion between land-use types caused directly by bioenergy feedstock production, including the following (amongst others): arable land and permanent crops, permanent meadows and pastures, and managed forests; and natural forests and grasslands (including savannah, excluding natural permanent meadows and pastures), peatlands, and wetlands.
Social pillar. GBEP considers the following themes relevant, and these guided the development of indicators under this pillar: Price and supply of a national food basket; Access to land, water and other natural resources; Labor conditions; Rural and social development; Access to energy; and Human health and safety.
Economic pillar. GBEP considers the following themes relevant, and these guided the development of indicators under this pillar: Resource availability and use efficiencies in bioenergy production, conversion, distribution and end-use; Economic development; Economic viability and competitiveness of bioenergy; Access to technology and technological capabilities; Energy security/Diversification of sources and supply; and Energy security/Infrastructure and logistics for distribution and use.