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Title: Sustainable Production of Bioenergy: A review of global bioenergy sustainability frameworks and assessment systems
Contributor(s): O'Connell, Deborah (author); Braid, Andrew (author); Raison, John (author); Handberg, Kristian (author); Cowie, Annette  (author); Rodriguez, Luis (author); George, Brendan  (author)
Corporate Author: Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
Publication Date: 2009
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Abstract: Sustainability is a critical issue for the bioenergy industry internationally and in Australia. Many governments and market segments now consider that quantitative, robust and independently verified (or certified) sustainability credentials are vital in order for the bioenergy industry to expand globally. This is already translating to government policies in some countries. These policies will limit market access and government support to only those biofuels which meet specified sustainability criteria. The bioenergy industry – the use of biomass for heat, power (bioelectricity) and liquid fuels (biofuels) is relatively small in Australia. The need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as future oil security issues will provide drivers for the growth of the bioenergy industry. This report uses the term "bioenergy sustainability framework" (Figure 1-1) to refer to the combination of: • institutional systems (including environmental, social and economic policies, laws and regulations); intergovernmental agreements; national, state or regional governments; transnational organisations and industry groups. Institutional systems are the means by which sustainability goals can be achieved (or not, if the policy settings drive the system in an unsustainable manner). • sustainability assessment systems to monitor key system drivers and indicators over time, and to assess the state of system variables and trends. In a well-functioning approach, there would be feedback between the institutional systems and the sustainability assessment systems across different scales. For example, sustainability assessment systems can be used to judge the success of sustainability policy goals. They can also be used to help to design sustainable solutions by feeding back into policy settings in an adaptive management framework. In turn, institutional systems can specify the details of a sustainability assessment system to be deployed. In this report we discuss the theory behind sustainability assessment and the design of sustainable solutions; and discuss how a bioenergy sustainability framework might be applied. We review the sustainability issues that have arisen through rapid international expansion of the biofuels industry and report on the international response to these issues in terms of both institutional systems, and sustainability assessment systems. We review institutional systems in place at the level of the Australian Government, and for one state (Victoria) as a case study. We delve further into the theory and application of outcomes-based criteria and indicator assessment systems, and discuss the potential options and implementation pathways should Australia choose to develop or apply these approaches.
Publication Type: Report
Publisher: Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
Place of Publication: Canberra, Australia
ISBN: 1741519640
Field of Research (FOR): 070502 Forestry Biomass and Bioproducts
070108 Sustainable Agricultural Development
HERDC Category Description: R1 Contract Report
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Series Name: RIRDC Publication
Series Number : 09/167
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