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Global policy and local outcomes: a political ecology of biofuels in Guatemala

Tomei, J; (2014) Global policy and local outcomes: a political ecology of biofuels in Guatemala. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The thesis is an investigation of how global processes intersect with local contexts to shape the outcomes of biofuels for different social groups within Guatemala. Its theoretical stance is drawn from political ecology, which argues that phenomena such as the development of biofuels cannot be understood in isolation from the political economic contexts within which they are embedded. The analysis begins with a description of the European Union’s evolving biofuels policy framework. It then turns to an examination of the outcomes in Guatemala, a country that has taken advantage of the opening up of global and specifically European markets for biofuels. The EU is by design one of the few markets to address the sustainability impacts of biofuels and the thesis examines the question of whether its objectives are being met. Since 2006, the production of biofuels, specifically sugarcane ethanol, in Guatemala has increased from almost nil to more than 94 million litres per year in 2011-12. Virtually all of this production was destined for the EU market, which has been an important driver of this growth. This makes Guatemala an excellent case study for examining not only the impacts of increased global demand for biofuels, but also whether sustainability governance, as developed by the EU, adequately captures those issues that are salient to producer country contexts. The main empirical basis of the research is a series of more than seventy interviews, field visits and personal observations drawn from eight months field work in Guatemala. Interviewees ranged from the ex-Minister for Energy to peasant farmers. There are also interviews with EU officials. The thesis argues that given Guatemala’s history of civil conflict, weak governance and unequal land tenure the likelihood of developing an equitable and sustainable biofuels sector as envisioned and understood by European policy actors – one which would deliver rural development and environmental benefits – appears limited.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Global policy and local outcomes: a political ecology of biofuels in Guatemala
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Biofuels, Guatemala, Policy, Political ecology, Sustainability
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1431816
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