Biofuels and Renewables: Implications for People, Planet, Policies, Politics

Biofuels and Renewables: Implications for People, Planet, Policies, Politics

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4995-8.ch007
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The world is now raging with the debate of whether biofuel can be called an environmentally friendly fuel given its lifecycle impacts on people, land, air, andwater. One school of thought suggests that biofuel production does not have an impact on people, land, air, and water. Whereas, there is another school that shows through consistent work that there is an impact on different elements of nature within the planet from biofuel production. Policy makers of different countries of the world are also in a transient phase about their biofuel policies. There is also a politics regarding which school of thought will dominate the policymaking related to the biofuel sector. Such a politics will have a long-term impact on the sustainability of the world by affecting the social, economic, and environmental domains of sustainability. This chapter raises these concerns to provoke thoughts in the minds of the reader.
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The people oriented dimension of biofuel production has to focus what effects a stream of biofuel production can have on the people whose livelihoods are linked with the land that is used for biofuel production. Globally, in Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, Phillipines, instances have been found where biofuel production from feedstocks like oilseeds has happened after encroaching on the land of the common people. In India, an EPW article (D Silva, 2005), highlights the fact that a drive towards biofuel production has displaced the tribals from their land in Khammam, Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh. Instances have been found in Tanzania, Kenya where people have been displaced from their land and their livelihoods have suffered in the drive for using the land in biofuel production. Deprivation of people from their livelihoods in the path of moving towards biofuel production has been debated globally and has been reflected in the sustainable framework of biofuel production that got framed on 2010. In addition to this issue, the point of labour rights who are involved in the plantation, feedstock development and in the production system of biofuel are also being discussed at length. In some field sites in Brazil (which is the largest producer of bioethanol) violation of labour rights have been also reported by ILO. Sustainable agriculture systems should focus on the human face of producing feedstocks for biofuel production.

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