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Greenhouse gas emission associated with sugar production in southern Brazil

Author(s): de Figueiredo Eduardo | Panosso Alan | Romão Rangel | La Scala Newton

Journal: Carbon Balance and Management
ISSN 1750-0680

Volume: 5;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 3;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Abstract Background Since sugarcane areas have increased rapidly in Brazil, the contribution of the sugarcane production, and, especially, of the sugarcane harvest system to the greenhouse gas emissions of the country is an issue of national concern. Here we analyze some data characterizing various activities of two sugarcane mills during the harvest period of 2006-2007 and quantify the carbon footprint of sugar production. Results According to our calculations, 241 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent were released to the atmosphere per a ton of sugar produced (2406 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent per a hectare of the cropped area, and 26.5 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent per a ton of sugarcane processed). The major part of the total emission (44%) resulted from residues burning; about 20% resulted from the use of synthetic fertilizers, and about 18% from fossil fuel combustion. Conclusions The results of this study suggest that the most important reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from sugarcane areas could be achieved by switching to a green harvest system, that is, to harvesting without burning.
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