Published 28 April 2014
Increasing attention has been paid recently to the field of bioenergy and particularly its relation to issues such as climate change. Prominent aspects include greenhouse gas savings over fossil fuels, carbon balance, resource utilisation, market and technology development, as well as jobs, livelihoods, and health. These questions are highly topical as little consensus exists with regard to the positive and negative impacts of increased bioenergy utilisation. Even the idea that biofuels emit less carbon than fossil fuels is disputed, especially if bioenergy crops are grown on previously forested land, given the loss of carbon stocks.
The main drivers of increased bioenergy use include: (i) the decreased reliance on fossil fuels and their substitution for cleaner, modern and renewable source of energy; (ii) the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions; and (iii) employment creation. In developing countries, additional drivers to the expansion of bioenergy are: (iv) the "perceived" availability of large extensions of land coupled with the need for Foreign Direct Investments; (v) the prospects for development and poverty reduction ; and (vi) the increased demand stimulated by support schemes designed to meet high self-imposed targets for biofuel production in developed countries such as those from the European Union (EU). Following an increased number of international and domestic large-scale agro-fuel investments , these drivers (especially land "availability") explain why in terms of geographical scope, more and more conflicts have been recently reported in sub-Saharan Africa.
A case study of a bioenergy development in Kenya's Tana Delta area is explored to shed light into the system of national and international organisations, institutions and actors that deal with bioenergy governance. The case study is analysed from the regulatory framework point of view and the governance systems affecting it. The objectives of the paper are: (a) to identify sustainability and sustainability governance issues in biofuel developments in Kenya; (b) to assess the influence of international law and global governance (including European Union policies and companies) on these developments; and (c) to show the limitations of the current local and global governance approaches, proposing a bioenergy governance overarching framework that considers all key dimensions.
Footnotes omitted from this introduction. Paper prepared for the ENERGY TRANSITIONS Conference, Joensuu, 4–5 March 2013