Defining and evaluating the sustainability of biofuels leading criteria and indicators
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Defining and evaluating the sustainability of biofuels: leading criteria and indicators. Elisabeth Graffy U.S. Geological Survey U.S. Department of the Interior. U.S. Department of the Interior U.S. Geological Survey. Indicators Take Many Forms. Textual (‘swimmable’)

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Defining and evaluating the sustainability of biofuels: leading criteria and indicators

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Defining and evaluating the sustainability of biofuels leading criteria and indicators

Defining and evaluating the sustainability of biofuels: leading criteria and indicators

Elisabeth Graffy

U.S. Geological Survey

U.S. Department of the Interior

U.S. Department of the Interior

U.S. Geological Survey


Indicators take many forms

Indicators Take Many Forms

  • Textual (‘swimmable’)

  • Numerical (temperature, MCLs)

  • Visual (air quality colors)

  • Graphical (“Consumer reports”)


Need for national indicators

Need for National Indicators

  • “DRIP” widely viewed as increasingly problematic

  • Existing mechanisms and sources too fragmented, inconsistent, sporadic, not broadly credible

    • Improvements in production, reporting, and use at the national level proposed

  • Sustainability a consistent focus

    • Social, economic, environmental


Major national indicator efforts

Major National Indicator Efforts

  • Heinz Center: State of the Nation’s Ecosystems

  • NAS: Key National Indicator Initiative

    • State of the USA

  • EPA: Report on the Environment

  • Intergovernmental: Sustainable Water, Forest, Rangeland, Minerals Roundtables

  • National: NEST pilot

  • Federal: IWG on sustainability criteria for biofuels


National biomass r d board

National Biomass R&D Board

  • Co-chaired by DOE and USDA

    • NSF, EPA, DOI, DOT, OSTP, OFEE, DOC, DOD, Treasury

  • Created by E.O. > Biomass R&D Act of 2000 > Energy Policy Act of 2005

  • Responsibility: coordinate Federal activities to promote biobased industrial products.

    • President’s 20-in-10 plan, biofuels aspects of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007

    • National Biofuels Action Plan 2008


National biofuels action plan 2008

National Biofuels Action Plan 2008

“The Board aims to provide the interagency leadership to steer biofuels development on a sustainable path through the compilation and evaluation of biofuels sustainability criteria, benchmarks and indicators.”


Interagency leadership charge

Interagency Leadership Charge

  • Establish a Sustainability Interagency Working Group led by DOE, USDA, EPA

  • Define, by November 2008, a set of science-based national biofuels criteria and indicators

  • Coordinate with ongoing international activities, interface with industry and environmental groups, and plan workshops with internal and external stakeholders.


S iwg criteria and indicators

S-IWG Criteria and Indicators

  • Criteria

    • Directional: prescriptive, imply policy direction that may or may not currently exist; could show U.S. leadership.

    • Neutral: descriptive, aligned with other U.S. activities underway in international community (e.g. GBEP); provide policy flexibility and consistency with projected future policy development and legislation.

  • Indicators

    • Intended to empirically capture the direct and indirect consequences of moving to a biobased energy future.

    • Aim is relevance, availability of science information, economic feasibility.


S iwg draft criteria

S-IWG -- Draft Criteria

  • Greenhouse gases (GHG)

  • Soil quality and land productivity

  • Water use efficiency and quality

  • Air quality

  • Biological diversity


S iwg draft criteria cont

S-IWG -- Draft Criteria (cont.)

  • Land use change impacts

  • Resource use and conversion efficiency and productivity

  • Cost competitiveness and returns

  • Economic well-being and rural development

  • Food, feed, and fiber supply


S iwg draft criteria cont1

S-IWG -- Draft Criteria (cont.)

  • Public health and safety

  • Legal and institutional framework compliance

  • Workforce capacity

  • Imported oil displacement and energy supply diversity

  • Net energy balance

  • Energy access


Evaluating indicators

Evaluating Indicators

  • Not just a question of whether they are right or wrong…

    • What are they for?

    • Who are they for?

    • Who should be involved in development?

    • Is science-based sufficient?

    • How will they be used in practice?

    • Is coordination necessary across sectors, scales?


Helpful analytic frameworks

Helpful Analytic Frameworks

  • Policy Cultures of Information Use

  • Beyond the Pyramid

  • Strategic Coordination with other Trends


Policy cultures of information use

Policy Cultures of Information Use

  • Scientific – improve understanding

  • Ecological – protect ecosystems, resources

  • Managerial – promote efficient use, solve problems, balance objectives

  • Governance – enhance public access to information, to policymaking

  • Development -- improve human welfare, eradicate poverty, disease


Policy cultures as diagnostic tool

Policy Cultures as Diagnostic Tool

  • OECD: “ultimate goal of improving policy making, democracy and citizens’ wellbeing.”

  • NEST/US: credible, consistent, comprehensive to support federal and state level decisions

  • S-IWG on biofuels: “Expanding biofuels usage to 36 BGY over 15 years on a sustainable basis”

  • Who and What are they for?

  • Who is or should be involved?

  • Is science-based enough?


A post pyramid view

Policy, Planning, and Mgmt Indicators

Monitoring Data and Statistics

A “Post-Pyramid” View

Synthesized knowledge, symbols, narratives, metaphors with technical, cultural, economic,

spiritual content

Public

Frames

Legitimize common knowledge base for public discourse, social

learning

Key

Indicators

Measure Progress or Accountability to goals

Advance scientific understanding

Design: what for and for whom?

Uses: projected or desired


Strategic coordination with trends 1

Strategic Coordination with Trends 1

  • Sustainability indicators for biofuels under development

    • Global Bioenergy Partnership (G8)

    • International Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (NG)

    • UK plans mandatory biofuels sustainability standards by 2011

    • Crop-specific sustainability criteria & indicators (palm oil, soy, sugar cane) drafted

      • for use as management benchmarks and market certification


Strategic coordination with trends 2

Strategic Coordination with Trends 2

  • U.S. National environmental indicators overlap in many areas

    • Water

    • Land use

    • Soils

    • Biodiversity

    • Atmospheric

    • ….


Strategic coordination with trends 3

Strategic Coordination with Trends 3

  • General sustainability & societal indicators

    • OECD: “life satisfaction, freedom, trust, the level of education, income, employment, government effectiveness, the quality of democracy, corruption reduction, tolerance, commitment and innovation all are aspects of one phenomenon: societal progress”


How do or should state level bioenergy indicators fit in

How do or should state-level bioenergy indicators fit in?


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