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The Role of Systems Modeling for Sustainable Development Policy Analysis: the Case of Bio-Ethanol

Albert W Chan, National Research Council of Canada
Robert T Hoffman
Bert McInnis


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A dynamic systems modeling technique has been developed to assess technologies according to the criterion of sustainability. In a case study, the potential contribution of bio-ethanol toward achieving Canada’s commitment to the Kyoto targets for greenhouse gas reductions is analyzed. The analysis concludes that, although bio-ethanol may help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the technology by itself is insufficient to meet the Kyoto target. Applying the systems modeling approach to analyze sustainability helps highlight those policy issues that warrant more in-depth study. Although the systems model may not provide definitive answers, it raises relevant questions about physical constraints that might be encountered and estimates the extent to which sustainability targets may be met under various scenarios.

Key words

bio-ethanol, biofuels, dynamic systems modeling, emission targets, energy crops, light-duty vehicles, policy analysis, sustainability analysis
Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087