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Private governance in the biofuel industry

[conference paper]

Partzsch, Lena

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Abstract "The boom of biofuel is placing enormous demands on existing cropping systems, with most crucial consequences in the agro-food sector. For instance, spurred by the increasing use of corn for ethanol, tortilla prices in Mexico suddenly tripled in early 2007. While the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Jean Ziegler is demanding an international five-year ban on producing biofuels to combat soaring food prices, the biofuel industry is responding with first initiatives of private governance and certification. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and the Cramer Commission among others have formulated criteria on 'sustainable' biofuel production and processing. The German Environmental Minister plans to impose compulsory blending of only certified biofuel with petrol available at German stations in the near future. This paper explores the legitimacy of private governance and certification by biofuel industry, highlighting opportunities and challenges. There are three dominant lines of argumentation when it comes to legitimacy of private governance. (1) Most authors argue highly (or only) output-oriented ('de facto' legitimacy). In case of biofuel, this is problematic as long as no consensus has been established on what sustainable biofuel production is. (2) Deliberative democratic theories tell us that deficits of input-legitimacy can be balanced by the participation and inclusion of stakeholders (legitimacy through stakeholder inclusion). When analysing the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and the Cramer Commission, we find that both initiatives, in particular, fail to adequately include actors from the countries of production. (3) Finally, it is argued we need modalities for control and accountability in order to guarantee that the political output serves the common welfare (legitimacy through control and accountability). We will see that, again, the dominance of actors from the North is problematic because they cannot be held accountable by people in the South. Growing disaffection and lack of accountability are indicated by current hunger protests in the developing world." (author's abstract)
Keywords renewable energy; impact; food; agriculture; nutrition; security; energy industry; certification; environmental compatibility; bioenergy; sustainability; biodiversity; governance; regulation; biofuel
Classification Special areas of Departmental Policy; Economic Sectors; Ecology, Environment
Document language English
Publication Year 2010
City Münster
Page/Pages 19 p.
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications
data provider This metadata entry was indexed by the Special Subject Collection Social Sciences, USB Cologne