Implications of uncertain future fossil energy resources on bioenergy use and terrestrial carbon emissions
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The magnitude and character of the global resource base of fossil fuels is a key determinant of the evolution of the future global energy system and corresponding fossil fuel carbon emissions. What is less well understood is the potential magnitude of impact of the availability of fossil fuels, due to the interaction with biomass energy, on agriculture, land use, ecosystems and therefore carbon emissions from land-use change. This paper explores these links and implications. We show that if oil resources are limited, then the consequently higher price for liquids induces both the use of coal-to-liquids technology deployment, but also enhanced production of bioenergy crops particularly in a business-as-usual scenario. This in turn implies greater pressure to convert unmanaged ecosystems to produce bioenergy, and higher rates of terrestrial carbon emissions from land use.
KeywordsFossil Fuel Carbon Emission Climate Policy Bioenergy Production Fossil Fuel Resource
The authors are grateful for research support provided by Stiftung Mercator (www.stiftung-mercator.de). The authors also wish to express appreciation to the Integrated Assessment Research Program in the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy for long-term support that enabled the development of the Global Change Assessment Model, which was used in the conduct of this research. This research also used Evergreen computing resources at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Joint Global Change Research Institute at the University of Maryland in College Park, which is supported by DOE SC-IARP.
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