Generally speaking, using biodiesel instead of standard diesel is better from the environmental point of view. In this sense, biodiesel is often being talked about as the environmentally friendly alternative to standard diesel.
The most obvious environmental benefit of using biodiesel instead of standard diesel is in less greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions cause global warming and climate change, and there has been plenty of talk about the urgent need to reduce the level of these emissions in order to save our planet from the worst possible climate change scenario.
However, biodiesel doesn’t necessarily have to be connected with fewer emissions as compared to standard diesel because there are several different factors that will decide the final amount of emissions.
The most important of these factors is plant feedstock. Using plant feedstock in the production of biodiesel absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere when during the growth of the plant in the process of photosynthesis.
In this case, biodiesel is often mentioned as being carbon neutral because the carbon emissions absorbed during the plant growth are released again while biodiesel is burnt. Of course, this doesn’t always have to be the case, and some environmentalists fear that the increased feedstock production could directly affect the rate of deforestation which would in turn make the benefits from lower biodiesel emissions almost negligible.
What this means is that the biodiesel production must be sustainable at all costs, and it mustn’t lead to deforestation because this could lead to even more greenhouse gas emissions.
The several different studies have concluded that biodiesel accounts for significantly less carbon emissions as compared to standard diesel, in some cases lowering the amount of emissions by more than 50%.
The problem with many of these studies is that they failed to include land use change, and this is very important factor that mustn’t be overlooked. The changes in land use can significantly contribute to the total amount of greenhouses emissions, particularly, as already discussed above, in case of deforestation. To conclude, only sustainable biodiesel production guarantees positive environmental impact. Anything else could not only lead to rapid deforestation and more greenhouse gas emissions but could result in even more hunger in the world.