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Biofuels production, trade and sustainable development

The last five years have seen the emergence and growth of the biofuels sector and its growth into a global industry. Many countries, low-, middle-income and rich, have implemented ambitious targets and policies to promote significant biofuel industries. Yet this rapid growth in biofuels production has not been without controversy as concerns have been raised by a wide range of stakeholders about the environmental and social impacts of biofuel production and about the cost-effectiveness of some biofuels support policies. As a consequence, enthusiasm for biofuels amongst policymakers has waned, and some countries have drawn back from ambitious biofuels development.

In the midst of this backlash against biofuels it is easy to conclude that they are high risk and that the best option is to avoid them altogether. But the reality is more complex. Generalisations must be avoided and each case should be examined on its merits, taking account of the site-specific factors.

This book presents case studies from Pakistan, Costa Rica, South Africa and Ecuador which give a low- and middle-income country perspective on the potential for biofuels development. Each case study, prepared by experts from each of the four countries, examines the potential for developing the biofuels sector in the national context, explores the tradeoffs for economic development and the sustainable development implications.

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Dufey, A. and Grieg-Gran, M. (Eds.) (2010) Biofuels production, trade and sustainable development. International Institute for Environment and Development; London.