Greenhouse gas emissions from the cultivation of canola oilseed in Australia

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Eady, Sandra




Australia is a major supplier of canola1 into the European Union biodiesel market, with over 1.7 million tonnes exported annually to European countries. The European Commission’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED) sets a mandated target of 35% greenhouse gas (GHG) savings, compared to fossil fuels, for biofuels entering the EU transportation fuel market. In January 2018, this target will increase to 50% for biofuel installations in operation at 5 October 2015. For installations commissioned since this date, the savings target is now 60%. Currently, an international total default value of 38% savings in GHG emissions applies to canola, relative to emissions from the use of mineral diesel, and this has allowed Australian canola to enter the European Union (EU) biodiesel market without the need to verify GHG emissions. However, there is now a need to independently verify emissions associated with canola production, and to meet this need Australia has prepared an equivalent “Country Report” to those produced by EU Member states. This “Australian Country Report” has been prepared by the Australian Government Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s national research agency, to document the GHG emissions associated with the cultivation of canola (to the farm gate), for submission to the European Commission (EC). This resource will enable grain importers to ascertain if they can source canola from Australia and still meet the revised GHG savings target, in a similar way to how the EU Country Reports are now widely being used. Estimates of GHG emissions were undertaken at the State level as these regions within Australia are the most similar to NUTS2 regions in Europe. At a national level, GHG emissions associated with canola cultivation were 0.468 tonne CO2-eq/tonne canola seed harvested. When converted to a dry matter (DM) basis, by adjusting for moisture content, the emissions were 0.497 tonne CO2-eq/tonne canola seed DM. GHG emissions on a State basis ranged from 0.439 to 0.967 tonne CO2-eq/tonne canola seed DM (expressed as tonne CO2-eq per tonne of harvested grain at the farm-gate on a dry matter basis). The greatest emissions from canola cultivation came from the manufacture of fertiliser, followed by N2O from crop residues and CO2 from fuel use, with direct + indirect N2O emissions from soil also making a significant contribution. Variation in GHG emissions between the States was largely driven by climate variables such as rainfall and evapotranspiration, while high rainfall and irrigated systems, although having higher crop yields, had higher emissions largely associated with greater nitrogen inputs and N2O emissions. This report and the emissions calculations have been reviewed by three independent organisations – University of Melbourne (Australia), SGS Germany GmbH (Germany) and Deutsches Blomasseforschungszentrum DBFZ (Germany). The final report incorporates the review feedback as an Appendix.


CSIRO Repository

canola, biofuel, greenhouse gas, Renewable Energy Directive, European Union

Environmental Impact Assessment

Published Version (pdf) (2.79MB)

This report has been placed on the CSIRO repository and may be made available to persons outside of CSIRO for non commercial purposes, in its entirety and without deletion of disclaimers and copyright information.


Technical Report (Author)


Eady, Sandra. Greenhouse gas emissions from the cultivation of canola oilseed in Australia. CSIRO Repository: CSIRO; 2017.

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