The Sustainability of Biofuels: Limits of the Meta-Standard Approach

TitleThe Sustainability of Biofuels: Limits of the Meta-Standard Approach
Publication TypeOther Working Paper
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsLin, J
Secondary TitleThe Governance of Clean Development Working Paper Series No. 011
PublisherSchool of International Development
Place PublishedUniversity of East Anglia, UK
Keywordsbiofuels, climate change, European Union, GCD, governance, Voluntary Certification

The promotion of biofuels as a clean fuel alternative has been a significant aspect of the global quest for clean development. However, the quick-fix has proven to be problematic as food security and environmental concerns emerge. To address these concerns, European Union Renewable Energy Directive (EC Directive 2009/28/EC) contains sustainability criteria that biofuels must fulfill to be counted towards attainment of European Union or national renewable energy obligations or to be eligible for financial support. The European Commission has adopted the ‘meta-standard’ approach as the compliance mechanism. The ‘meta-standard’ approach relies heavily on voluntary certification schemes and is an example of regulatory ‘out-sourcing’ to private actors in European clean development governance. This paper critically examines the limitations of the ‘meta-standard’ approach, draws comparisons with governance of the Clean Development Mechanism, and argues that a much more robust regulatory framework is needed if we are to pay more than lip service to the notion of sustainable development.



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