Sustainability Science Program

Biofuels and Globalization

Biofuels and Globalization

The Biofuels and Globalization Initiative examines the trade, economic development and environmental policy dimensions of a global biofuel industry. Specifically it looks at the potential for the development of a biofuel industry in poorer developing countries and the challenges that must be met in order to realize this potential. These challenges include pressure on food prices, loss of biodiversity, net carbon emissions over the entire production process and the absence of public infrastructure service, such as roads and ports. To inform our work, the Initiative held three high-level workshops with experts from industry, government and academia. The first, in May 2007, identified the most important research questions in trade, economic development, and environmental policy; the second (2008) focused on the potential and obstacles to developing a robust biofuel industry in the developing world; and the third (2009) dealt with the efficacy of certification standards being developed in Europe and the United States. Our research had substantial influence on academic and government research priorities. Much of Brazil's current policy research on this topic draws on our work. European countries have moved in the direction of our recommendations on certification. Our recent attention has been on biofuel development in the developing world.