Logo 'Fair Fuels?'

Between dead end and energy transition:
A social-ecological multilevel analysis of transnational biofuel policy

The project: Fair Fuels?

Only a few years ago, bio- or agrofuels seemed to offer a promising possibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the mobility sector and dependency on oil (imports) and to enhance regional value creation. Policies were initiated in numerous countries throughout the world to increase the use and production of biofuels, and it did not take long for a strong international controversy to arise. The main problem areas are (among others) the competition of biofuels with food and fodder, the endangerment of primary forests and other high conservation value areas, and the increase in intense agriculture with all its socio-ecological impacts.

The project Fair Fuels? addressed the question of whether biofuels can be produced and used in a socio-ecologically compatible manner and looks at the socio-ecological impacts that derive from present production and promotion. Since biofuels are produced regionally but products and raw materials are traded internationally and subsidy policy is influenced by national and international agreements, a socio-ecological multi-level analysis of the production, use, subsidisation, and transformation potential of biofuels will be conducted.

The project was divided into case studies in three different world regions and three supra-regional cross-section components, as well as an integrating result component. In addition to the regional case studies, which included an industrialised nation (Germany), a newly industrialising country (Brazil), and two African developing countries, specific issues, such as the role of international politics, the evaluation of ecological aspects, and possible policy instruments for dealing with socio-ecological conflicts (e.g. certification systems), have also been addressed.

The project team consisted of junior scientists and researchers, all of whom have been pursuing further academic qualification (doctorate, postdoctorate).The project, initiated and led by the IÖW, was sponsored within the framework of the socio-ecological research programme of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

"Fair Fuels?" at a glance

Download the project leaflet (pdf, 2 MB)