In a study that was published in Nature Sustainability, the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology stated that sugar taxation policies have potential to meet climate change objectives as sugar is one of the most terrible foods to eat in terms of a health perspective but has great potential for biofuel production.
The study was conducted by Lewis King and Jeroen van den Bergh from ICTA-UAB, and they evaluated the reorientation of existing sugar cropland for alternative uses.
The authors focused on three scenarios, the EU reforesting its current sugar cropland, the EU switching its sugar beet crops to ethanol production, and the third scenario was EU exporting its excess sugar production while Brazil switches its sugarcane crops from sugar to ethanol production.
All in all, the calculations indicated that emissions could fall anywhere between 20.9–54.3 MtCO2e per year under the first scenario. These savings could double the second scenario and be around four times higher than those under the third scenario.
The study also found that an EU-Brazil agreement with the EU focusing on sugar production from sugar beet and Brazil producing ethanol from sugarcane could provide the greatest environmental benefits to society.
Sugarcane ethanol production has proved to be an economically viable alternative to sugar in Brazil.
Additionally, the economic impact on farmers in both the EU and Brazil would be minimal, resulting in an equitable specialization across countries that provides welfare gains by reducing negative externalities.
"It provides a clear example of how broad collaboration can help direct society in a more sustainable direction," says ICREA research professor at ICTA-UAB, Jeroen van den Bergh.