Discourses on biofuels (Joy Clancy)

Report
TOWARDS A POLITICAL ECOLOGY OF BIOFUEL
CROPS
JOY CLANCY
TWENTE CENTRE FOR STUDIES IN TECHNOLOGY AND SUSTAINABLE
DEVELOPMENT (CSTM), UNIVERSITY OF TWENTE
BIOFUELS FROM FIRST GENERATION CROPS
There are different crops
 Biodiesel – jatropha; palm oil
 Bioethanol – sugarcane; maize
Which crop can/is be grown linked to
 the ecology of soil, water, sunshine of the place (region, locality)
 the particular socio-economic and political characteristics of the place

which influences the model of production, the actors and the
discourses involved
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POLITICAL ECOLOGY
CONSTRUCTING THE META-ANALYSIS
 Political ecology ‘combines the concerns of ecology and a
broadly defined political economy’ (Blaikie and Brookfield
1987)
 Provides an analysis of human interaction with the natural
environment
 Builds on an understanding of when people use natural
resources for food, fibre and fuel – although less attention
paid to other values (eco-systems services reveals)
 Local level environmental problems do not always originate
at the local level
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POLITICAL ECOLOGY
 Reveals who has access and who has control
over natural resources
 Power within societies unevenly distributed along
lines of class, race, and gender – between
societies
 How is it exercised? Through formal institutions
and other mechanisms – such as discourses
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BIOFUEL DISCOURSES
CONVEY VALUES IN LANGUAGE
 Macro discourses implicitly assume:
priority for economic values
the need to have new ‘clean’ energy supplies for national economic
growth
addressing climate change
social inclusion of rural poor
 Micro-level (local) discourses place a value on:
household or community systems of production
diverse and more plural set of values
 But where do these micro-level discourses get heard?
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BIOFUELS: THE DISCOURSES
THE SOLUTION TO MANY PROBLEMS – OFTEN SIMULTANEOUSLY
 Energy security
 Rural development (pro-poor)
 Climate change
 Environmental degradation (waste land)
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BIOFUELS
THE CAUSE OF MANY PROBLEMS
 Threat to food security (crime against humanity)
 Damage to eco-systems
 Transformation of rural societies from integrated small-scale
production systems to agro-industries
 Human rights violations
 Land ‘grabbing’
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DISCOURSES OF THE RURAL POOR
INCLUSION OR EXCLUSION FROM BIOFUELS PRODUCTION CHAINS?
 Rural poor farmers are not homogeneous
 Inclusion isn’t always wanted & is resisted
Not only financial values but modes of production
Brazil – women’s social position was undermined by switch of
production mode
 Terms of incorporation are important
Brazil – farmers lease land for biofuels retain identity as farmers –
culturally important and gives access to benefits
India and Africa – women enter when new production spaces are
created
 Reasons for inclusion: status; consolidate his/her power in social
relationships; access to knowledge & resources
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DISCOURSE OF ‘WASTE LAND’
WHOSE WASTE LAND?
 Response to ‘competition with food’ – use ‘waste’ land – particularly
India and parts of Africa
 Whose ‘waste’ land? Who defines this? Who benefits?
 Land not used for agricultural production (crops & animal grazing) or
commercial forestry is productive
 Sites of biodiversity with eco-system functions (both biological and
human services)
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CONTESTED AREAS
WHO WINS THE POWER STRUGGLE?
 Advocates of biofuels use the discourses of their opponents to their
advantage
 Waste land – response to food versus fuel
 Slave labour in sugar cane – improve working conditions through
mechanisation – consequence is unemployment
 Who wins?
 NGOs as champions of the rural farmer? Promotors of standards
 Poor farmers struggle to reach the standards.
 CSR – tends to address health & safety not rights
tends to be international companies with reputation to protect
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THE VILLAIN OF THE PIECE
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JATROPHA CURCAS:
WHAT FARMERS ARE TOLD
 produces oil-rich seeds, is known to thrive
on eroded lands, and to require only
limited amounts of water, nutrients and
capital inputs
 But…………………..
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JATROPHA CURCAS:
IN PRACTICE
 Yields are generally reported as lower for farmers (both under irrigated
and rain-fed) than under controlled conditions
 To be economic requires irrigation
 Disillusioned small and marginal farmers who opt for exclusion
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WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
ABOUT ECOLOGY OF JATROPHA
• How Jatropha performs in a wide variety
of habitats eg where will it be invasive?
• Not been subject to breeding programmes
eg for higher and more consistent yields
but reduced gene pool
• Uncertain what the optimal levels of
inputs are
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WHERE IS THE POLITICAL ECOLOGY OF BIOETHANOL?
 There is quite a literature about the
political economy of sugarcane and maize
(USA)
 Ecology seems to be missing
 Water use? Chemical inputs?
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POLITICAL ECONOMY OF US MAIZE
AN ANALYSIS THAT STOPS PART WAY?
 US exports maize – it has kept to export volume quotas but price is
rising
 Why are non-food deficit countries importing maize (eg Mexico, South
Africa, Ghana)?
 Local farmers cannot compete on price but now they can – signs they
are replanting
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CLOSING REFLECTION
 Negative publicity of 1st generation biofuels promotes 2nd and 3rd
generation biofuels which undermines competitive advantage of the
South
 Domestic markets not export markets in the South
 Too simplistic to assume a priori that export-oriented or commercial
crops have negative ecological and social effects
 Technological fix for what are complex, inter-related social, economic,
political and ecological problems which can’t be reduced to the level of
“Tweets”
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