Bioenergy as climate change mitigation option within a 2 °C target—uncertainties and temporal challenges of bioenergy systems

Mirjam Röder*, Patricia Thornley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bioenergy is given an important role in reaching national and international climate change targets. However, uncertainties relating to emission reductions and the timeframe for these reductions are increasingly recognised as challenges whether bioenergy can deliver the required reductions. This paper discusses and highlights the challenges and the importance of the real greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction potential of bioenergy systems and its relevance for a global 450 ppm CO2e stabilisation target in terms of uncertainties and temporal aspects. The authors aim to raise awareness and emphasise the need for dynamic and consequential approaches for the evaluation of climate change impacts of bioenergy systems to capture the complexity and challenges of their real emission reduction potential within a 2 °C target. This review does not present new research results. This paper shows the variety of challenges and complexity of the problem of achieving real GHG emission reductions from bioenergy systems. By reflecting on current evaluation methods of emissions and impacts from bioenergy systems, this review points out that a rethinking and going beyond static approaches is required, considering each bioenergy systems according to its own characteristics, context and feedbacks. With the development of knowledge and continuously changing systems, policies should be designed in a way that they provide a balance between flexibility to adapt to new information and planning security for investors. These will then allow considering if a bioenergy system will deliver the required emission saving in the appropriate timeframe or not.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
JournalEnergy, Sustainability and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2016 Röder and Thornley. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and
reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to
the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.


  • 2 °C target
  • 450 ppm COe stabilisation target
  • Bioenergy
  • Climate change
  • Cumulative emissions
  • Emission reductions
  • Temporal aspects
  • Uncertainties


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