Bioenergy Development - Issues and Impacts for Poverty and Natural Resource Management

  • Cushion E
  • Whiteman A
  • Dieterle G
  • 38

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Abstract

This report overviews recent developments in the consumption and production of bioenergy. It examines the main issues and possible economic implications of these developments and assesses their potential impact on land use and the environment, especially with respect to forests. The report examines both solid biomass and liquid biofuels, identifying opportunities and challenges at the regional and country levels. The report does not claim to be definitive, especially with respect to the controversial interplay of issues such as the impact of bioenergy on food prices. Instead, it identifies the tradeoffs that need to be examined in considering bioenergy policies. The past 5–10 years have seen a strong resurgence of interest in bioenergy, along with the gradual development of more modern and efficient bioenergy production systems. This resurgence has been driven by several factors, including higher oil prices, instability in oil-producing regions, the shift of financial investments into commodities and oil in 2007–08, extreme weather events, and surging energy demand from developing countries. Other drivers behind biofuel production include domestic agricultural support programs, demand for self-supply of energy commodities, mitigation of climate change, and the belief that biofuels are less expensive than fossil fuels. Bioenergy systems present opportunities for countries with land resources suitable for energy crop cultivation to develop a national source of renewable energy (and possibly provide additional export revenues). Most countries encouraging bioenergy development have at least one of the following policy objectives: to increase energy security, stimulate rural development, reduce

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Authors

  • Elizabeth Cushion

  • Adrian Whiteman

  • Gerhard Dieterle

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