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Sustainability standards (also known as "sustainability guidelines") are agreed criteria by which the production, transportation and processing of particular bioenergy sources can be assessed for environmental, social and other values.
- Sustainability standards and certification schemes can help consumers and others judge whether given products are "environmentally friendly" and should be purchased. This type of incentive has been useful in promoting improved environmental and social-economic performance for example, in the production of paper and wood through the Forest Stewardship Council and other certification systems.
- The establishment of a Carbon Stewardship Council has been proposed. A credible and comprehensive system of sustainability standards for bioenergy is likely to be useful in promoting "environmentally friendly" biofuels and bioenergy, while discouraging the production of bioenergy that harms the environment and local communities.
- This page provides information on ongoing processes and initiatives to develop sustainability standards for bioenergy and biofuels. These are mostly multi-stakeholder initiatives, which bring together representatives from civil society including farmers and academia; business and government.
Better Sugarcane Initiative
- The Better Sugarcane Initiative, an initiative of the World Wildlife Fund, is a group of sugarcane retailers, investors, traders, producers and NGOs who seek to create international standards that define sustainable sugarcane cultivation.
- The importance of this initiative is the wide cultivation of sugarcane and its possible impacts both positive and negative. Sugarcane is grown in 103 countries and accounts for 60-70% of sugar production, a figure which is expected to increase as world demand for ethanol increases. 
Global Bioenergy Partnership
- Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP) was launched by the G8 + 5 (Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa)in 2006.
- GBEP provides a forum to, among others, suggest rules and tools to promote sustainable biomass and bioenergy development.
Green Gold Label
- "The Green Gold Label programme is a certificate system for sustainable biomass. It covers production, processing, transport and final energy transformation. Green Gold Label (GGL) offers standards for specific parts of the supply chain, as well as standards for track&trace."
- "Green Gold Label has been operational since 2001 as the global certificate for sustainable biomass."
- IDB Biofuels Sustainability Scorecard - "The primary objective of the Scorecard is to encourage higher levels of sustainability in biofuels projects by providing a tool to think through the range of complex issues associated with biofuels."
- One of the task forces of the International Energy Agency Bioenergy Implementing Agreement.
- Task 40 - Sustainable International Bioenergy Trade: Securing Supply and Demand - is working to develop standards and to evaluate the impact of standards on markets and trade.
- A multi-stakeholder process sponsored by the Sustainable Food Lab
- Sustainable Bio-Fuels Development Research and Synthesis - Sustainable Food Lab, October 2006.
Round Table on Responsible Soy Association
- Round Table on Responsible Soy Association (RTRS): RTRS "is the global platform composed of the main soy value chain stakeholders with the common objective of promoting the responsible soy production through collaboration and dialogue among the involved sectors in order to foster a economical, social and environmental sustainability."
- The Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) is a multi-stakeholder process sponsored by the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland
- RSB factsheets (PDF files): RSB Overview | RSB - FAQs | Certification Fact Sheet | Certification FAQs
- Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil - "RSPO is an association created by organisations carrying out their activities in and around the entire supply chain for palm oil to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil through co-operation within the supply chain and open dialogue with its stakeholders."
- See also the BioenergyWiki page on the RSPO.
- A coalition of environmental groups, of which the Rainforest Alliance serves as the Secretariat. They certify farmers and farm products with the "Rainforest Alliance Certified seal of approval".
- Sustainable Agriculture Network Standards - The Sustainable Agriculture Network Standards were developed "developed with active stakeholder involvement through a public consultation process".
National and supranational initiatives
- Social Fuel Stamp
- This is part of Brazil's National Program of Biodiesel Production and Use.
- It attempts to deal with the question of social sustainability of biofuels by providing tax incentives for biodiesel producers to purchase feedstocks from small family farms in poorer regions of the country.
- To receive the stamp, producers must agree to:
- "To purchase minimum percentages of raw materials from family farmers, 10% from regions North and Mid-West; 30% from the South and Southeast and 50% from the Northeast and the Semi-Arid Region; and
- "To enter into contracts with family farmers establishing deadlines and conditions of delivery of the raw material and the respective prices, and to provide them with technical assistance."
News related to Brazil standards:
- Small farmers to join Brazil sustainable cane move, 1 September 2008, by Reuters: "Dozens of small and medium-scale farmers in Brazil's Sao Paulo state will grow sugar cane certified as meeting strict social and environmental standards, the region's cane producers association said late on Thursday."
- Sugarcane suppliers joining the program "must refuse the use of child or slave labor, limit their use of agrochemicals, and gather their cane with mechanical harvesters as opposed to cutting it manually. Manual cutting involves burning the plant's foliage, which pollutes the air."
- "Production standards, which will come into force on August 30, were set by Organizacao Internacional Agropecuaria (OIA), a private company which provides inspection and certification services."
- EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) "In April 2009, the Council of the European Union adopted a directive setting a common EU framework for the promotion of energy from renewable sources (Directive 2009/28/EC). The aim of this legislative act is to achieve by 2020 a 20% share of energy from renewable sources in the EU's final consumption of energy and a 10% share of energy from renewable sources in each member state's transport energy consumption." Source BEFSCI (PDF)
News related to EU standards:
- Palm oil plantations could be classified as forests, 8 February 2010 by The Ecologist: "European Commission guidance would allow biofuels to be labelled as sustainable even if forests have been destroyed to make way for the palm oil plantations."
- "According to a leaked document from the European Commission, reclassifying palm plantations as forested land could be justified and allow it to meet sustainability criteria."
- According to the document, this would mean "'for example, that a change from forest to oil palm plantation would not per se constitute a breach of the criterion.'"
- "Friends of the Earth said the plans, if accepted, would allow rainforest to be destroyed to make way for palm plantations and the resulting biofuel to still be classified as sustainable."
- "The EU is due to publish a report on greenhouse gas emissions from biofuel production in March 2010."
- Biofuel producers warn EU over "unjustifiably complex" sustainability rules, 7 November 2008 by BusinessGreen: "Eight developing countries have written to the EU warning they will complain to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) if it passes proposed legislation designed to improve the environmental sustainability of biofuels by restricting the types of fuels the bloc imports."
- "The EU is considering legislation that is intended to ban the purchase of biofuels from energy crop plantations that are believed to harm the environment and lead to food shortages by displacing land used for food crops and contributing to rainforest deforestation."
- "[E]ight countries – Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Indonesia and Malaysia – have written to the EU to protest against the proposals" in a letter that "claims that the new rules would 'impose unjustifiably complex requirements on producers' and argues that environmental criteria 'relating to land-use change will impinge disproportionately on developing countries'."
- New report shows EU biofuel policy likely to cause worldwide environmental destruction, 6 May 2008 press release by Birdlife International: "The EU’s biofuel policy is likely to cause large-scale environmental harm across the world, according to a new report [Fuelling the ecological crisis - six examples of habitat destruction driven by biofuels (PDF file)] published today by BirdLife International."
- "The report presents real life cases, from across the world, where the production of biofuel feed stocks is leading to the clearing of natural habitats. It examines the potential for future damage by analysing these case studies against the “sustainability standards” proposed by the European Commission, which are supposed only to allow “sustainable biofuels” to be allowed into the EU market."
- "The major failing of the Commission proposal is that it ignores indirect effects of biofuel production such as increased consumption of EU oil-seed rape driving up demand for South-East Asian palm oil or US corn ethanol subsidies driving soya expansion in the Amazon."
- Draft Biomass Sustainability Regulation has been agreed upon by cabinet as part of the “Integrated Climate and Energy Programme” in December 2007.
- Commentary Paper for the Draft on the German Biomass Sustainability Ordinance (BioNachV) from December 5th, 2007, Union for the Promotion of Oilseeds and Protein Plants (UFOP) & Institute for Energy and the Environment, 2008.
- Sustainability and certification of biomass and bioenergy in Germany, Europe and worldwide Dr. Jan M. Henke, Renewables Forum Germany 2008, Hannover, April 22, 2008.
- The Biofuel Quota Act (PDF file) contains provisions that allow the Federal Government to set sustainability criteria.
- International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) is a multi-stakeholder process to develop an implementable certification scheme for sustainable biomass and bioenergy production and to test these in a process-oriented pilot phase. The ISCC is an initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection through its Agency for Renewable Resources (Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe – FNR). The ISCC is managed by Meó Corporate Development GmbH and involves stakeholders from market participants along the value chain, and NGOs and research institutes from different countries in Europe, the Americas, and South East Asia who discuss and develop sustainability criteria, standards, rules and procedures for the certification of biomass and its uses. Once the pilot phase is finished, it is planned that ISCC will become an international and independent organization that will be responsible for the certification of sustainable bioenergy and assessment of greenhouse gas balances for biofuels.
- Verified Sustainable Ethanol Initiative
- Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO)
- Starting in 2008 the RTFO will "place an obligation on fuel suppliers to ensure that a certain percentage of their aggregate sales is made up of biofuels. The effect of this will be to require 5% of all UK fuel sold on UK forecourts to come from a renewable source by 2010."
- Biofuel producers will have to report on the green-house gas balance, and environmental impact of their biofuels.
- This information will be used to develop sustainability standards, which may be imposed on any extension of the RTFO.
- Statement by the UK Transportation Minister on Sustainability and the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation
- Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP)
- "The LowCVP is a partnership of nearly 250 organisations from the automotive and fuel industries, the environmental sector, government, academia, road user groups and other organisations with a stake in the low carbon vehicles and fuels agenda."
- LowCVP has done important work in developing a life-cycle analysis tool for green-house gas emissions. This will allow for a real evaluation of the comparative emission benefits or costs of various biofuels.
- Council on Sustainable Biomass Production
Related sustainability standards initiatives
Many organizations certify a range of products based on sustainability standards relevant to bioenergy.
- Basel Criteria for Responsible Soy Production
- Bioenergy and Food Security Criteria and Indicators (BEFSCI) project
- "The complex interrelationships between bioenergy, poverty and food security are currently being analyzed in the context of the FAO’s Bioenergy and Food Security (BEFS) project, which is in the process of field-testing and refining a methodology to assess the impacts of bioenergy production on food security."
- Biomass Mark
- "The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Japan has advanced the promotion and use of biomass based on the “Biomass Nippon Strategy” which the Cabinet Council agreed to in December, 2002 and this strategy has triggered a Biomass Mark Program inauguration."
- "The Biomass Mark is designed to be put on commodities which are produced using biomass totally or partly and is aimed to promote consumers’ use of biomass by their seeing this mark and recognizing that it is a biomass utilized commodity."
- The Biomass Mark is a registered trademark of Japan Organic Resources Association, an affiliated organization of Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
- Ethanol and Sugar Impact Analysis (ESIA) ESIA Consulting "promotes more effective corporate social responsibility by using tools specifically designed for the sugar and ethanol sectors and the challenges presented to these by globalization." 
- European Committee for Standardization (CEN) "The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) is a business facilitator in Europe, removing trade barriers for European industry and consumers." 
- Fairtrade Labelling Organizations (FLO) International "The International Fairtrade Certification Mark (CM) guarantees a very rigorous process of certifying products as complying with international Fairtrade standards set by FLO." 
- Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) provides certification (eco-labelling) of products (such as timber and paper) from well-managed forests.
- International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) "IFOAM's Organic Guarantee System (OGS) is designed to a) facilitate the development of organic standards and third-party certification worldwide, and to b) provide an international guarantee of these standards and organic certification." 
- International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
- Technical Committee (TC) 248 / Project committee for Sustainability criteria for bioenergy
- Technical committee (TC) 238 for the standardization in the field of solid biofuels.
- Technical committee (TC) 28 / subcommittee 7 for the standardization in the field of liquid biofuels.
- Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Sources: How International Standards Can Help (PDF file) by Alan Bryden, ISO Secretary-General, World Energy Congress, Rome, 12 November 2007.
- International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance (ISEAL) "The ISEAL Alliance defines and codifies best practice, at the international level, for the design and implementation of social and environmental standards systems." 
- Marine Aquarium Council (MAC) "MAC Certification covers both products and practices, in other words, both the aquarium organisms and the industry operators involved in supplying those organisms." 
- Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) "The MSC's fishery certification program and seafood eco-label recognise and reward sustainable fishing." 
- Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes (PEFC) "PEFC promotes sustainable forest management - environmentally, socially beneficial and economically viable management of forests for present and future generations - through independent third party forest certification." 
- Protected Harvest
- Midwest U.S. landscape change to 2020 driven by biofuel mandates by Megan Mehaffey, Elizabeth Smith, and Rick Van Remortel, January 2012. "Meeting future biofuel targets set by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) will require a substantial increase in production of corn. The Midwest, which has the highest overall crop production capacity, is likely to bear the brunt of the biofuel-driven changes. In this paper, we set forth a method for developing a possible future landscape and evaluate changes in practices and production between base year (BY) 2001 and biofuel target (BT) 2020.... Understanding where changes are likely to take place on the landscape will enable the evaluation of trade-offs between economic benefits and ecosystem services allowing proactive conservation and sustainable production for human well-being into the future." 
- PDF available at: oaspub.epa.gov/eims/eimscomm.getfile?p_download_id=502641
- Introduction to the RSB Certification Systems (PDF) by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels, 31 March 2010. "The RSB certification systems provide a comprehensive scheme for verification of compliance with the RSB standards for responsibly produced, processed and traded biomass/biofuels." This new document outlines the certification system for the RSB sustainability standards.
- Global Trade and Environmental Impact Study of the EU Biofuels Mandate (PDF file), March 2010 by Al-Riffai, P., B. Dimaranan and D. Laborde for IFPRI. From the Executive Summary:
- "The primary objective of this study is to analyse the impact of possible changes in EU biofuels trade policies on global agricultural production and the environmental performance of the EU biofuel policy as concretised in the [European Union's Renewable Energy Directive (RED)]. The study pays particular attention to the ILUC effects, and the associated emissions, of the main feedstocks used for first-generation biofuels production."
- "...World cropland increases by 0.07%, showing that there is indeed indirect land use change associated with the EU biofuels mandate."
- "Finally, considerable uncertainty remains regarding the impact of the sustainability criteria on biofuels markets. The role of certification and the emergence of differentiation in biofuels, feedstock crops and land prices, based on carbon content and the respect of sustainability criteria, require more empirical research."
- Certification Strategies, Industrial Development and a Global Market for Biofuels (PDF). by Ricardo Hausmann and Rodrigo Wagner; Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs Sustainability Science Program, 13 January 2010.
- Making Certification Work for Sustainable Development: The Case of Biofuels United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), October 2008. Investigates pros and cons of certifying biofuels on the basis of sustainability and what is required for a certification system to play a positive role for sustainable development without hindering international trade.
- 2008 White Paper on Internationally Compatible Biofuels Standards Requested by the governments of the United States and Brazil and the EU. Produced by a joint task force after a six-month review process that considered thousands of pages of technical documents produced by ASTM International, the Brazilian Technical Standards Association (Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas or ABNT) and the European Committee for Standardization (CEN). Standards developed by these three SDOs are currently being used in support of biofuels commodities trading between nations.
- Sustainability Criteria and Certification Systems for Biomass Production by Biomass Technology Group, prepared for DG TREN European Commission, February 2008. The objective of this report is to provide a basis upon which the European Commission could decide which actions to undertake in terms of proposing minimum sustainability criteria and certification systems for the production of biomass in the EU and for imported biomass.
- Biofuels Sustainability Criteria Relevant issues to the proposed Directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sourcesStudy requested by the European Parliament's Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, Francis X. Johnson and Mikael Roman, June 2008.
- LASEN's Review of Biofuels sustainability initiatives (Final draft) (LASEN, EPFL) by Dr. Edgard Gnansounou, Luis Panichelli and Juan David Villegas. The goal of this document is to describe and compare different initiatives on biofuels sustainability standards, in the intention of offering a useful tool for policy makers and different stakeholders already involved or wishing to be involved in liquid biofuels consumption and production. October 2007
- International Standards to Develop and Promote Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Sources International Energy Agency (IEA) & Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), June 2007.
- The Challenge of Sustainable Bioenergy: Balancing climate protection, biodiversity and development policy - A Discussion Paper by Gerald Knauf, Jürgen Maier (German NGO Forum Environment & Development), Nikki Skuce (OneSky - Canada) and Annie Sugrue (CURES Southern Africa). This discussion paper looks at the challenges of sustainable bioenergy and makes suggestions for sustainable development including a focus on the use of biomass for heat and power, biogas as a transportation fuel as opposed to liquid biofuels.
- Sustainable Bioenergy: A Framework for Decision Makers (pdf) - UN-Energy, April 2007. An overview of the benefits and risks of bioenergy and what policy makers have to do to ensure environmental, social and economic sustainability.
- Creating Markets for Green Biofuels: Measuring and improving environmental performance (pdf) by Brian T. Turner, Richard J. Plevin, Michael O’Hare and Alexander E. Farrell; research report, UC Berkeley Institute of Transportation Studies, April 2007. Details a methodology and policy options for a Green Biofuels Index, which would rank biofuels according to how well they met environmental criteria. This would help create a market for more sustainable biofuels.
- Overview of recent developments in sustainable biomass certification (draft)(pdf) by Jinke van Dam, Martin Junginger, André Faaij, Ingmar Jürgens, Gustavo Best, Uwe Fritsche; IEA Bioenergy Task 40, December 2006.
- Feasibility Study on certification for a Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation by E4Tech, ECCM, and Imperial College London, June 2005. This study addresses whether and how greenhouse gas and environmental and social standards should be linked to a Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation.
- Draft Environmental Standards for Biofuels (pdf) by The Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management, IIED, ADAS, Imperial College; LowCVP, 18 July 2006.
- Sustainability Standards for Bioenergy by Uwe R. Fritsche, Katja Hünecke, Andreas Hermann, Falk Schulze, Kirsten Wiegmann with contributions from Michel Adolphe;WWF Germany, Öko-Institut, November 2006.
- Criteria for Sustainable Biomass Production - Final report of the Project group Sustainable production of biomass,Interdepartmental Programme Management Energy Transition, Netherlands, 14 July 2006.
- The impact of sustainability criteria on the costs and potentials of bioenergy production (pdf) by Edward Smeets, André Faaij and Iris Lewandowski; Copernicus Institute, part of the FAIR Biotrade project funded by the Dutch electricity company Essent N.V. and NOVEM (Netherlands Organisation for Energy and the Environment), May 2005.
- Paving the way for agrofuels: an unsustainable path (pdf) by Tamra Gilbertson, Nina Holland, Stella Semino and Kevin Smith (Transnational Institute), September 2007.
- Sustainability of Brazilian Bioethanol (PDF) by Edward Smeets, Martin Junginger, André Faaij (Utrecht University); Arnaldo Walter, Paulo Dolzan (State University of Campinas); commissioned by SenterNovem, The Netherlands Agency for Sustainable Development and Innovation, August 2006.
- Social Dialogue for Sustainability of Brazilian Bioethanol (PDF) by Ethical Sugar NGO with the participation of the Brazilian Ministeries of Agriculture; Public Labor and the Sao Paulo environmental secretary June 2006.
- Legal Regulation of ecological and social ambivalencies of bioenergy by Felix Ekardt, Andrea Schmeichel, and Mareike Heering. 2009.
- 23-24 January 2012, Berlin, Germany: Fuels of the future (Themes: Europe, biofuels, bioethanol, biodiesel, certification, ILUC, standards, sustainability, biomethane, etc.)
- 13-15 March 2012, Rotterdam, The Netherlands: World Biofuels Markets (Themes: Africa, algae, aviation, biorefining, certification, iLUC, standards, sustainability, etc.)
- 27-28 January 2011, London, United Kingdom: Biodiesel Industry Forum 2011: Meeting Sustainability Requirements - Overcoming the Challenges of the Renewable Energy Directive for the Biodiesel Industry. (Themes: biodiesel, biomass, camelina, certification, palm oil, feedstocks, jatropha, sustainability)
- 29-30 June 2011, Brussels, Belgium: AEBIOM European Bioenergy Conference & RENEXPO® Bioenergy EUROPE. (Themes: biogas, markets, policies, second generation, sustainability certification)
- 19-21 September 2011, Campinas, Brazil: Quantifying and managing land use impacts of bioenergy (PDF). (Themes: biodiversity, GHG accounting, iLUC, land use change, soil, sustainability certification, water)
- Major Milestone for Sustainable Biofuels -- World's first sustainable biofuels certification under new RSB international standards , 10 February 2010 by National Wildlife Federation: "The NCS International announced on Thursday that it has certified the world's first biofuels operation to achieve certification against the Principles and Criteria of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB).
- "The RSB has developed a third-party certification system for biofuels sustainability standards, encompassing environmental, social and economic principles and criteria through an open, transparent, and multi-stakeholder process. National Wildlife Federation played a key role in establishing this global standard for the voluntary certification of biofuels and hopes the new system will promote good practices on the ground, and eventually help end biofuels production practices that are harmful to the climate and environment."
- ""Barbara Bramble, Senior Advisor for the International Climate and Energy Program at the National Wildlife Federation, and Chair of the Board of the RSB, said today:
- "'We are pleased that the Manildra Group has achieved certification, under the RSB's global system of Principles and Criteria, for their wheat flour production operation, Shoalhaven Starches Pty Ltd. This is a significant achievement for the Australian-based project, which makes biofuels out of an otherwise potentially polluting waste stream, so it fulfills several objectives at once."
- "For more information on the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels, visit www.rsb.org."
- See also the website of RSB Services
- Website of RSB Services Launched, 10 February 2012, by RSB Services: "The RSB Services Foundation is a US-based non-profit organization to implement the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels’ sustainability standard. The RSB Services Foundation works with companies who wish to become certified and third party verifiers (i.e. Certification Bodies) to maintain the tools and internal systems for the RSB certification process...."
- First EU sustainability schemes for biofuels get the go-ahead, 19 July 2011 press release by the European Commission: "In order to receive government support or count towards mandatory national renewable energy targets, biofuels used in the EU, whether locally produced or imported, have to comply with sustainability criteria. These criteria aim at preventing the conversion of areas of high biodiversity and high carbon stock for the production of raw materials for biofuels. In practice this means that biofuels made of crops that have been grown on land that used to be rainforest or natural grassland with a unique ecosystem cannot be considered as sustainable. In addition, the greenhouse gas emissions over the whole production chain need to be at least 35% lower compared to fossil fuels. That threshold will increase over time."
- "Companies can choose whether to demonstrate compliance with these sustainability requirements through national systems or by joining a voluntary scheme which is recognised by the Commission."
- "After a detailed assessment made by the Commission and various improvements the following schemes were recognised:
- ISCC (German (government financed) scheme covering all types of biofuels)
- Bonsucro EU (Roundtable initiative for sugarcane based biofuels, focus on Brazil)
- RTRS EU RED (Roundtable initiative for soy based biofuels, focus on Argentina and Brazil)
- RSB EU RED (Roundtable initiative covering all types of biofuels)
- 2BSvs (French industry scheme covering all types of biofuels)
- RSBA (Industry scheme for Abengoa covering their supply chain)
- Greenergy (Industry scheme for Greenergy covering sugar cane ethanol from Brazil)
- "The Commission is currently discussing with other voluntary schemes how these can also improve their standard in order to meet the sustainability requirements for biofuels."
- Biofuels targets are 'unethical', says Nuffield report, 13 April 2011 by BBC News (U.K.): "EU biofuels targets are unethical, according to a report by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics."
- "Its authors recommend the targets should be lifted temporarily until new safeguards are put in place for biofuels grown in Europe or imported."
- "The Council is an independent body that was set up 20 years ago to ponder ethical issues raised by developments in biology and medicine."
- "It has been studying biofuels for 18 months - specifically relating to the EU Renewable Energy Directive target that biofuels should account for 10% of transport fuel by 2020, a much-criticised mandate originally designed as part of Europe's strategy to combat climate change."
- "Based on what it says is a set of ethical values which will be widely shared, the report says biofuels should:
- "These principles would be backed by a mandatory - and strictly enforced - EU certification scheme, a little like the Fairtrade scheme."
- Recent developments of biofuels/bioenergy sustainability certification: A global overview , March 2011 by ScienceDirect:
- From the abstract: "A large number of national and international initiatives lately experienced rapid development in the view of the biofuels and bioenergy targets announced in the European Union, United States and other countries worldwide. The main certification initiatives are analysed in detail, including certification schemes for crops used as feedstock for biofuels, the various initiatives in the European Union, United States and globally, to cover biofuels and/or biofuels production and use....Certification has the potential to influence positively direct environmental and social impact of bioenergy production. Key recommendations to ensure sustainability of biofuels/bioenergy through certification include the need of an international approach and further harmonisation, combined with additional measures for global monitoring and control. The effects of biofuels/bioenergy production on indirect land use change (ILUC) is still very uncertain; addressing the unwanted ILUC requires sustainable land use planning and adequate monitoring tools such as remote sensing, regardless of the end-use of the product."
- The RSB Certification System is now open for business!, 23 March 2011 by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels: "The Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) announced the launch of the RSB Certification System today at the World Biofuels Markets 2011 in Rotterdam, NL. The RSB was initiated and is hosted by the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland."
- "Since 2007, the RSB brings together farmers, industries, NGOs and governments to get a broad consensus on the social and environmental requirements to ensure sustainable biofuel production. Based on these requirements, the RSB certification system provides the assurances operators need to guarantee the sustainability and traceability of their feedstocks and fuels. The new RSB system can put them on a path towards compliance and certification for EU market access and other regulated markets. On March 18, 2011, it received provisional recognition by the Government of Germany under its regulatory scheme for biofuels."
- See the RSB Press Release, New RSB system allows certification and traceability for sustainably produced biofuels!
- International sustainable biofuels certification system unveiled, 22 March 2011 by Biodiesel Magazine: "The Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels launched the first global third-party certification system for sustainable biofuels March 22. The RSB Certification System includes environmental, social and economic principles and criteria and features a unique set of online tools aimed at taking the complexity out of compliance and streamlining certification."
- "'It’s one thing to say your product is sustainable and another to prove it,' said Barbara Bramble, Senior Advisor for the International Climate and Energy Program at the National Wildlife Federation. 'This new system makes it easy to differentiate between biofuels that are environmentally destructive and biofuels that deliver on the promise of sustainability.'"
- "The certification system covers the major issues of concern in biofuels’ production, including their contribution to climate change mitigation and rural development; their protection of land and labor rights; and their impacts on biodiversity, soil and water pollution, water availability and food security."
- "The certification system will be operated by RSB Services, which is the business arm of the RSB, providing access to the certification process, licensing, and auditors’ training among other activities."
- Two-thirds of UK biofuel fails green standard, figures show, 27 January 2011 by the Guardian: "Less than one-third of the biofuel used on UK roads meets government environmental standards intended to protect water supplies, soil quality and carbon stocks, according to new figures."
- "The Renewable Fuels Agency says that just 31% of the biofuel supplied under the government's initiative to use fuel from plants to help tackle climate change met its green standard. For the remaining 69% of the biofuel, suppliers could not say where it came from, or could not prove it was produced in a sustainable way, the figures show."
- Germany relaxes rule on biofuel sustainability, 15 December 2010 by Michael Hogan: "Germany has temporarily relaxed rules requiring raw materials for biofuels come from sustainable output, a move which industry bodies said on Wednesday will smooth imports of rapeseed and rapeseed oil for biodiesel use."
- "The directive aims to protect tropical rain forests being cut down for biofuel crop production. But German industry associations had feared the failure of other EU states to implement the rule on time would mean Germany would not have been able to import non-certified rapeseed and rapeseed oil from other EU states in 2011."
- "Germany imports about two million tonnes of rapeseed annually for food and biodiesel production."
- "'The change is limited to June 2011 so we now hope that other EU states will also introduce the EU directive otherwise we will be faced with the problem again,' the UFOP spokesman said."
- UK biofuels 'falling short' on environmental standards, 31 August 2010 by BBC: "The Renewable Fuels Agency says it is disappointed that the vast majority of biofuels sold on UK forecourts do not conform to environmental standards."
- "The body said fuel suppliers were meeting legally binding volume targets but some were falling 'well short' on achieving voluntary green standards."
- "Figures released by the RFA show that just 33% of biofuels met an environmental standard, well short of the 50% goal for 2009/10."
- "Currently under the RTFO, only the volume target is mandatory; the carbon savings and environmental standards goals were voluntary."
- "However, this is set to change when the EU Renewable Fuel Directive (RED) comes into force at the end of the year, which will expect member states to ensure the biofuels meet both environmental and carbon saving criteria."
- "Under RED, member states will also be expected to ensure that 10% of transport fuel is from a renewable source by 2020."
- Updated US Federal Trade Commission Guideline May Nullify 100's of Existing Green Labels, Product Claims, 26 August 2010 by TreeHugger: "The US FTC is close to updating its original 'green guides' which have been the sole legal basis for examining and challenging the validity of various green marketing claims or product 'green marks'."
- "Many of the early efforts at green labeling utilized life cycle inventory data that were inapplicable to actual countries of product origin..."
- "Here's a key cite from the Advertising Age article on this:"
- "Christopher Cole, an advertising-law specialist and partner with law firm Manatt Phelps & Phillips in Washington, said the guides could render most of the more than 300 environmental seals of approval now in currency on packaging and products largely useless and possibly in violation of FTC standards."
- If "squishy words" like sustainability get pulled in, the entire accountability aspect could be lost. All environmental performance standards are by definition relativistic, and 'my product/company is more sustainable than yours 'is a boring tar pit that sinks all who reach in."
- World Bank Group publishes draft framework for sustainable palm oil, 27 July 2010 by Cosmetics Design: "The World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) have released a draft framework for engagement in the palm oil sector, in the hope of promoting positive change."
- "In the draft document, the World Bank Group, one of the biggest sources of funding for developing countries, has set out the possible ways it can help move the sector onto a more sustainable footing."
- "The Group proposes action on four major themes – policy and regulatory environment, sustainable private sector investment, benefit sharing with small holders and communities, and sustainability codes of practice."
- "Actions proposed include working with governments to design appropriate policy institutions, strengthen small holder producer organizations and improve smallholder access to finance, as well as working with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in order to strengthen its sustainable palm oil certification program."
- Download the consultation draft of the document, The World Bank Group’s Framework for Engagement in the Palm Oil Sector.
- The Rainforest Alliance Releases New Verification Mark to Recognize Achievements in Sustainability, 23 June 2010 by Environmental News Network: "The Rainforest Alliance today released its new verification mark to recognize businesses and projects that have achieved significant and measurable sustainability milestones. The new mark is awarded to forest carbon projects and tourism and certain forestry enterprises that meet standards developed by the Rainforest Alliance itself or by other organizations with which the Rainforest Alliance is aligned."
- "For nearly 20 years the Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM seal has been used to designate farms and forestlands that meet the rigorous, third-party standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network or the Forest Stewardship Council. These standards for environmental, social and economic sustainability are developed through an independent, participatory process."
- Commission sets up system for certifying sustainable biofuels, 10 June 2010 by European Union @ United Nations: "On 10 June 2010, the Eurpopean Commission decided to encourage industry, governments and NGOs to set up certification schemes for all types of biofuels, including those imported into the EU."
- "This will help implement the EU's requirements that biofuels must deliver substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and should not come from forests, wetlands and nature protection areas. The rules for certification schemes are part of a set of guidelines explaining how the Renewable Energy Directive, coming into effect in December 2010, should be implemented."
- "Biofuels must deliver greenhouse gas savings of at least 35% compared to fossil fuels, rising to 50% in 2017 and to 60%, for biofuels from new plants, in 2018."
- Garden Furniture Scorecard: Sustainable Buys Are Widely Available (PDF file), 25 May 2010 press release by the National Wildlife Federation: "To ensure responsible consumers can keep buying green, National Wildlife Federation has released its fourth annual garden furniture scorecard, a buyer’s guide to products that come from well managed tropical forests."
- More than 50 groups express support for Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels after EBB, eBIO walkout, 12 May 2010 by Biofuels Digest: "In Switzerland, more than 50 organizations expressed support for the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels after support letters were circulated following the withdrawal of the European Biodiesel Board and eBIO from the organization."
- "'We wish to express our continued support to the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) Secretariat for the multi-stakeholder process currently underway to develop a robust, usable meta-standard, and implementation system for biofuel sustainability,' began one letter from members of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group".
- FAO Compares Bioenergy Sustainability Initiatives, April 2010 by Climate-L.org: "The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has released a review of 17 initiatives from the Bioenergy and Food Security Criteria Indicators (BEFSCI) project."
- "The reviews describe the efforts of initiatives to address the environmental and social impacts of biofuel production at a variety of levels within the supply chain. The initiatives include regulatory frameworks, voluntary standards and certifications and scorecards.
- For more information see the Bioenergy and Food Security Criteria and Indicators (BEFSCI) project site.
- "The reviews describe the efforts of initiatives to address the environmental and social impacts of biofuel production at a variety of levels within the supply chain. The initiatives include regulatory frameworks, voluntary standards and certifications and scorecards.
- ISO holds US stakeholder meeting for the development of sustainability criteria for bioenergy, 22 April 2010 by BioenergyWiki staff (Melina Unger): The International Standards Organization (ISO) on 20 April held a one time input session open to US nonmember stakeholders such as NGOs, regulatory agencies, industry and farming organizations. The remainder of the standards development process will require ISO membership for participation.
- Press release: ISO standard to make bioenergy sustainable, 7 January 2010 by ISO:
- "The decision to develop the standard responds to the growing international interest in bioenergy, and the current lack of globally harmonized sustainability criteria."
- "ISO/PC 248 will bring together international expertise and state-of-the-art best practice to discuss the social, economic and environmental aspects of the production, supply chain, and use of bioenergy, and identify criteria that could prevent it from being environmentally destructive or socially aggressive."
- Press release: ISO standard to make bioenergy sustainable, 7 January 2010 by ISO:
- Report shows just four per cent of imported biofuels are environmentally sustainable, 28 January 2010 press release by Friends of the Earth: "Commenting on a report published by the Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA)...which shows just four per cent of biofuel imported for use in the UK meets the environmental sustainability standard set by the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation", Friends of the Earth's biofuels campaigner Kenneth Richter said:
- 'Just four per cent of biofuels imported from abroad are sustainably produced - the vast majority are causing deforestation and land use changes that are increasing climate changing emissions and pushing people off their land.
- 'Biofuels are not the answer to our energy woes - the UK should scrap its targets and must focus our attention on developing greener transport alternatives to cars, such as fast and affordable rail services and cycling and walking.'"
- 12 November 2009: The Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels releases "Version One" of its "international standard for better biofuel production and processing."
- Unilever starts tea origin certification program in Brazil, 01 October 2009 by FoodBizDaily: "World demand for tea is growing at a faster pace than its supply this year. But consumers, particularly in Europe, United States and Japan want to make sure that by drinking their cup of tea they are not helping to destroy the environment or encouraging the use of slave labor. This situation has led Unilever, world’s largest tea company, to certify the origin and production of its tea in countries such as Kenya and Argentina. It is a process that begins to be deployed in Brazil."
- "Teramoto states that if Brazilian producers adopt Imaflora recommendations - a package that even includes the commitment to preserve an area of the original forest - certifications may be granted in the first quarter of 2010. With the Sustainable Agriculture Certification seal in hand, producers, which export 90% to the United States, Canada, England and Chile, may charge a higher price of Unilever, which accounts for 80% of Brazilian black tea exports."
- Environmental Groups Spar Over Certifications of Wood and Paper Products , 12 September 2009 by New York Times: "For more than a decade, the nonprofit Forest Stewardship Council generally has been viewed as the premier judge of whether a wood or paper product should be labeled as environmentally friendly."
- "But to the dismay of major environmental groups, that label, known as F.S.C., is facing a stiff challenge from a rival certification system supported by the paper and timber industry. At stake is the trust of consumers in the ever-expanding market for 'green' products."
- "This week lawyers for ForestEthics, a nonprofit group dedicated to protecting forests, filed administrative complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and the Internal Revenue Service challenging the credibility of the rival label, known as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, or S.F.I."
- "The complaints, which challenge S.F.I.’s nonprofit status, accuse the certification program of lax standards and deceptive marketing intended to obscure the standards and the S.F.I.’s financial ties to the forest industry."
- Worldwatch & Sierra Club Outline Smart Choices for Biofuels, 19 February 2009 by RenewableEnergyWorld.com: "The Sierra Club and Worldwatch Institute have released a new report, "Smart Choices for Biofuels" (PDF file), that highlights the need for policy reforms to increase the use of biofuels in the U.S."
- The "report concludes that if a renewable fuels mandate is to contribute effectively to reducing foreign oil dependence and curbing global warming, it must be reevaluated in light of changing circumstances. Changes in four broad policy categories--sustainability standards, advancing biofuels production and new technologies, creating green jobs, and promoting policy coherence across energy sectors--are detailed in the report."
- Roundtable seeks international sustainability input, 13 January 2009 by Biodiesel Magazine. The Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels will be holding RSB outreach in the Americas meetings in order to gain input on last fall's Version Zero of the RSB’s principles and criteria for sustainability.
- "The first meeting in the Southeast is scheduled for Jan. 28, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Southern Growth Policies Board in Durham, N.C.; a second meeting will follow the National Biodiesel Conference on Feb. 4 at the Moscone West Convention Center in San Francisco. A meeting in Iowa is being planned for the first week of March and one in Washington, D.C., is being planned for later in March, according to the RSB Americas Coordinator Matt Rudolf."
- "The RSB is proposing a voluntary system to certify sustainable biofuel production. An implementation working group has already begun working on certification plans for the standards, which are expected to be adopted in June." 
- U.S. needs environmental standards for biofuels, 2 October 2008 by mongabay.com: "The U.S. lacks criteria to ensure that cellulosic ethanol production will not harm the environment, warn scientists writing in the journal Science. The researchers say that with proper safeguards, cellulosic ethanol can help the U.S. meet its energy needs sustainably."
- Read the original article here (subscription required)
- IDB launches interactive Biofuels Sustainability Scorecard 9 September 2008 press release by the IADB. The Inter-American Development Bank released an interactive tool known as the Biofuels Sustainability Scorecard on September 9th, during the 4th Annual Western Hemisphere Energy Security and Cooperation Forum, held at IDB's headquarters in Washington DC. and as part of a comprehensive effort to ensure that biofuel investments produce social, economic and environmental benefits. The Scorecard addresses 23 key environmental and social issues such as food security, greenhouse gas emissions, water management, land use change, biodiversity or poverty reduction. The IDB is inviting comments and suggestions regarding the Scorecard, which is available at www.iadb.org/secci, during a six month public consultation period that will end in March 2009.
- CBD Invites Submissions on Experiences on Tools Relevant to the Sustainable Production and Use of Biofuels, 6 August 2008 by Climate-L.org: "The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has invited submissions regarding experiences in the development and application of tools relevant to the sustainable production and use of biofuels, as well as relevant information from research on, and monitoring of, the positive and negative impacts of the production and use of biofuels on biodiversity and related socioeconomic aspects, including those related to indigenous and local communities."
- "A Call For A Strategic U.S. Approach To The Global Food Crisis - A Report of the CSIS Task Force on the Global Food Crisis" (PDF file), July 2008, by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Recommends revising "the U.S. approach to biofuels so that fuel and food security objectives are effectively de-conflicted", as well as bringing "into force new sustainability criteria to assess the life-cycle costs and carbon requirements for alternative biofuels."
- Human rights, rare species on EU biofuels agenda, 1 July 2008 in The Guardian.
- "The European Union is near to agreeing standards for biofuels that put human rights and endangered species high on the agenda"
- "Biofuels that do not meet the EU's strict new standards will not be banned, but member states will not be able to count them towards their renewable fuels targets."
- "But several key areas are still being debated, such as the level of greenhouse gas savings a biofuel would have to achieve as well as how to calculate the performance of different crops and different methods for converting them to biofuels."
- Don't burn food: biofuels standards now! - March 2008 petition by Avaaz collected tens of thousands of signatures for their petition to heads of industrialized countries calling for "strong global sustainability standards."
- ↑ National Program on Biodiesel Production and Use Pamphlet (English)
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/environment/rtfo/
|Organizations/Initiatives: Better Sugarcane Initiative | Forest Stewardship Council | Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels | Responsible Commodities Initiative | EU: GAVE | LowCVP|
|Sustainability standards | Sustainability initiatives (Better Sugarcane Initiative, Forest Stewardship Council, Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil)|
What is bioenergy? | Benefits/Risks | Who is doing what?