Another study (summary, full report) indicating that biofuel mandates (this time in the EU) will result in extra land conversion, and associated large emissions of greenhouse gases. The analysis, by the Institute for European Environmental Policy, found that
between 4.1 and 6.9 million hectares of additional land will need to be cropped due to the increasing conventional biofuel demand, set out in national plans. This is equivalent to an area of somewhere between the size of Belgium and the Republic of Ireland. The report estimates that this would lead to additional annual emissions of between 27 and 56 million tonnes of carbon dioxide between 2011 and 2020, associated with land conversion. This would be equivalent to having 12 to 26 million additional cars on Europe’s roads in 2020.
The political response to the entire land use issue in the US has been to try to exclude it from calculations and regulations. Hopefully the same won't be true for Europe.
Another interesting finding was that exact assumptions on land use impacts didn't affect the policy recommendation very much:
Sensitivity analysis completed during the work demonstrates that the overarching message of failure to deliver GHG savings from conventional biofuel use remains the same even when far lower estimates of ILUC [indirect land use change] and GHG emissions from land use change are applied. This underlines the need to address the question of ILUC associated with biofuel use as a priority. The current evidence clearly points to ILUC emissions undermining the arguments for the use of conventional biofuels as an environmentally sustainable, renewable technology.