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Political Shaping Of Transitions To Biofuels In Europe, Brazil And The USA

Harvey, M and McMeekin, A (2010) Political Shaping Of Transitions To Biofuels In Europe, Brazil And The USA. UNSPECIFIED. Centre for Research in Economic Sociology and Innovation (CRESI) Working Paper 2010-02, University of Essex, Colchester, UK.

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Abstract

Faced with major challenges of global climate change, declining fossil fuel reserves, and competition between alternative uses of land, the transition to renewable transport fuels has been marked by new modes of political economic governance and the strategic direction of innovation. In this paper, we compare the different trajectories to the development and uptake of biofuels in Europe, Brazil and the USA. In terms of the timing, direction, and development of biofuels for road transport, the early lead taken by Brazil in sugarcane based ethanol and flex-fuel cars, the USA drive to corn-to-ethanol, and the European domination of biodiesel from rapeseed, manifest significant contrasts at many levels. Adopting a neo-Polanyian ?instituted economic process? approach we argue that the contrasting trajectories exemplify the different modes of politically instituting markets. We analyse the contrasting weight and impact of different drivers in each case (energy security, climate change mitigation, rural economy development, and market opportunity) in the context of diverse initial conditions and resource endowments. We explore the ?politics of markets? that arise from the different modes of instituting markets for ecologically sustainable economic growth, including the role of NGOs, the scientific controversies over land-use change, and the contrasting political institutions in our case studies. We also place our analysis in the historical perspective of other major carbon energy transitions (charcoal to coal, coal to petrochemicals). In so doing, we explore the idea of the emergence of new modes of governance of contemporary capitalist political economies, and the significance of politically directed innovation. The research is based on an extensive primary research programme of in-depth interviews with strategic players in each of the geographic regions, qualitative institutional analysis, a scenario workshop, and secondary data analysis.

Item Type: Monograph (UNSPECIFIED)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Biofuels; peak oil; climate change; politically directed innovation; instituted economic process; USA; Brazil; Europe
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2012 12:02
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2017 18:13
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/2296

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