Integrated Carbon Credit Programs: A Biofuels Program in Madagascar that Links the Energy, Land Use and Transportation Sectors

EPA Grant Number: SU833909
Title: Integrated Carbon Credit Programs: A Biofuels Program in Madagascar that Links the Energy, Land Use and Transportation Sectors
Investigators: Shatkin, Gavin , Currie, William S. , Savage, Phillip
Current Investigators: Savage, Phillip , Currie, William S. , Shatkin, Gavin
Institution: Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning (TCAUP) , UM School of Natural Resources and Environment , University of Michigan
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2008 through August 14, 2009
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2008) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Challenge Area - Agriculture , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Integrated biofuels programs that link the energy, land use and transport sectors hold significant promise for reducing greenhouse gases, improving public health and benefitting local livelihoods. An interdisciplinary team of University of Michigan faculty and students will develop a replicable approach for securing carbon credits in order to support the creation of integrated biofuels projects in developing countries.


To date, the promise of carbon credit mechanisms has been largely unrealized in Africa. Integrated biofuel schemes for the transport sector have similarly delivered disappointing results. Our team will focus on how carbon credit mechanisms can be used in Africa by applying our analysis to the case of the Fianarantsoa-Côte Est railway (FCE) transport corridor in Madagascar. The FCE railway sustains a lively informal economy for the roughly 100,000 rural people living along its route. Currently, international investors are considering options to revitalize the railway and encourage adjacent communities to diversify their agricultural base by growing the hardy Jatropha curcas for oil extraction. The energy-rich oil seed would be used as feedstock for the production of biodiesel sold to the railway itself and regional state-run electrical power plants.

Expected Results:

Our team will produce four research contributions: 1) A literature review investigating the effectiveness of bundling individual emission-reduction activities into a single program to reduce the transaction costs associated with certified emission reduction units. This will identify the potential opportunities and constraints involved in accounting for emission reductions. Following the literature review on ways for integrating low-value crops like Jatropha curcas into traditional polyculture cropping systems, we will travel to Madagascar to meet with local stakeholders to deepen our understanding of how social inequalities and land tenure issues could affect the long-term implementation of carbon credit programs. 2) A case study based on interviews with the FCE railway authorities on the prospects and barriers of using biodiesel in their locomotives with a specific focus on technical factors involved in retrofitting existing engines. We will also consult with railway engineer specialists in the U.S., Europe and India who are experimenting with the use of biofuels in locomotives. 3) An industrial ecology report that examines how financial value can be maximized through efficient use of inputs and outputs derived from a jatropha-based biodiesel production process. 4) The final report suggesting tangible steps biofuel promoters can take in countries like Madagascar to benefit from carbon credits mechanisms and encourage profitable agricultural production practices that sequester carbon while at the same time promoting equity among low-income populations.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 2 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

sustainable development; biodiesel; sustainable agriculture,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Energy, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Urban and Regional Planning, sustainable development, environmental sustainability, alternative materials, biomass, energy efficiency, energy technology, alternative fuel, biodiesel fuel, carbon credits, alternative energy source

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report