The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Yves Le Bouthillier, Annette Cowie, Paul Martin and Heather McLeod-Kilmurray
Chapter 11: Agrofuel law and policy in East Africa: assessing avenues for sustainability
Agrofuel remains a controversial and emotive subject that has resulted in debates that generate more heat than light. Not only is truth often the casualty, but views are mostly informed by vested interests, not unlike the almost extinct debate about whether global climate change is a reality or a conspiracy. Adopting an objective standpoint that advances environmental justice where science is not well settled becomes an uncertain exercise in which interest groups jostle for legislative advantage to ensure that their interests take priority. In the agrofuel debate, consummate “tree huggers” such as Biofuelwatch highlight the negative impacts of biofuels on biodiversity, food security, human rights and climate change, while large agrofuel multinationals such as Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, Shell, Neste Oil, Biox Group, Caryle Group and Riverside Holdings, among others, have continued to make significant financial investments in the agrofuel sector, the negative impacts notwithstanding. This chapter deliberately employs the term “agrofuel” rather than “biofuel” to highlight the distinction between large-scale cultivation of feedstock on land through agricultural means, and more traditional uses of biomass such as charcoal, firewood or biogas: where instances defy this neat distinction, the term “biofuels” generally refers to liquid biofuels. The chapter ignores the distinction between first-and second-generation agrofuels, as this dichotomy reinforces the fallacy that generating liquid biofuels from biomass eliminates the food versus fuel competition.
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