The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Yves Le Bouthillier, Annette Cowie, Paul Martin and Heather McLeod-Kilmurray
Chapter 14: Trends in government incentives for biofuels
Since the 1970s, biofuels have been promoted as a potential solution to a range of issues. Development of biofuels derived from corn, or from other crops (wheat, oilseeds and agricultural residues), can diversify and strengthen rural economies. Incentives to support this sector have enjoyed political support from rural representatives in both the USA and Canada. Biofuels can help address energy security by providing a domestic alternative to imported petroleum. Finally, production of biofuels is associated with lower greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline or diesel and can thus be considered part of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. Policy tools have been essential in increasing biofuel production in pursuit of these three goals. These tools may be grouped into three categories: (1) funding for research, development and demonstration; (2) producer, consumer or market incentives; and (3) mandates or renewable fuel standards. These have been fundamental to the growth of the US and Canadian biofuel sector, and particularly the ethanol industry, which is by far the most widely used type of biofuel in these countries.
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