Biofuels - The State of Play, 2012
This paper summarizes and discusses policy literature on the state of play of the over US$ 20 billion in subsidies for biofuel production and consumption: Why are governments subsidizing biofuels? What are the actual impacts? Is there a need for change? In particular, it examines the influence of three dynamic factors on the biofuels debate: the “food versus fuel” debate, advanced biofuels developments and the austerity policies necessitated by the financial and economic crisis.
On the basis of this review, it recommends that governments should:
- Raise the political profile of evidence-based economic, environmental and social costs and benefits of biofuels.
- Report annually the value of subsidies granted to biofuel consumers and producers in a detailed and consistent manner.
- Abstain from introducing new forms of government support to conventional biofuels.
- In the short term, replace rigid biofuel production or consumption mandates and targets with more flexible arrangements.
- In the middle term, establish and implement a plan for removing national policies that support consumption or production of biofuels that a) compete with food uses for the same feedstock crops; and b) have negative impacts on the environment.
- Continue support for the development of infrastructure that allows for more flexibility in the use of biofuels.
Written in non-technical language, it is addressed to government, corporate and civil society circles and is designed to act as a reference document for those participating in discussions on biofuel subsidies around the G-20 Summit in Los Cabos (June 18–19, 2012) and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development “Rio+20” in Rio-de-Janeiro (June 20–22, 2012).
The paper was was launched at a special discussion on biofuel subsidies organized by Nestlé S.A. on the Business Day at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20. A video of conference can be viewed on the GSI Subsidy Watch blog.