just did my presentation in my Climate Change & Geographical Economics class at TU (Technische Universität) this morning.
I discussed Richard J. Plevin’s 2010 analysis on the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) policy. It’s chapter 10 of his 200pg dissertation (no, I didn’t read the entire thing), Life Cycle Regulation of Transportation Fuels: Uncertainty and its Policy Implications, for his phD in Energy & Resources at UC Berkeley.
Short summary of this chapter:
- Carbon dioxide emissions from the transportation sector comprise about one third of total CO2 emissions in the US, and 40% of the total in California.
- Many national and regional governments have been promoting biofuels as a strategy to mitigate the climate change effects of the existing petroleum-based transportation system.
goal of the California LCFS:
- To reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector in California by about 16 million metric tons in 2020.
- Leakage: reshuffling of biofuel markets and the rebound effect
- Uncertainty in life cycle assessments (LCA)
- When the rebound effect and reshuffling are taken into account, along with uncertainties in ILUC (indirect land-use change) emissions, the actual benefits from the LCFS appear to be small to negligible.
- Rather than building a complex market-based system based on highly-precise quantification of an observable, subjective, and uncertain measure like the life cycle GHG emissions, we should recognize the limits of scientific analysis and develop policies that observe these limits.