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Constructing sustainable biofuels: governance of the emerging biofuel economy

Bailis, Robert and Baka, Jennifer (2011) Constructing sustainable biofuels: governance of the emerging biofuel economy. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 101 (4). pp. 827-838. ISSN 0004-5608

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Identification Number: 10.1080/00045608.2011.568867


In recent decades, new modes of governance have emerged in which an array of non-nation-state actors (NNSAs) drive norms and behaviors related to the production and consumption of goods and services with potentially large environmental and social impacts. These modes of governance are evident in the governance of biofuels, where intergovernmental organizations, national and subnational governments, corporations, and civil society organizations have recently developed an array of standards, metastandards, and codes of conduct attempting to define the conditions in which crops can be grown, processed, and used as fuel. Although the field is populated by dozens of efforts, a few binding state-sponsored regulations appear to dominate the major markets for biofuels in the United States and European Union. Nevertheless, existing regulations were heavily influenced by NNSAs. Further, several state-derived modes of governing take the form of metastandards that permit standards developed by NNSAs to be used in their place, resulting in a hybrid system of state and nonstate governance regimes. The regimes taking shape attempt to minimize the negative impacts of biofuel production in numerous ways; for example, by introducing penalties for production associated with direct and indirect land use change, crediting for the coproduction of livestock feed, and encouraging biofuel production on marginal lands. However, these issues are plagued by contradictions, raising questions about how sustainability is defined and assessed in the context of biofuel governance.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2011 Association of American Geographers
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2013 11:18
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2024 06:33

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