Articulation of environmental and socio-economic externalities from bioenergy

Isabelle Brose, Florence van Stappen, Annick Castiaux

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Purpose: Bioenergy from agriculture is considered to be a way to reduce GHG emissions and thus global warming and climate change. Bioenergy also presents other environmental externalities as impacts on air, soil and water quality, biodiversity, etc. In addition, bioenergy presents socio-economic externalities as impacts on human health, social wellbeing, local prosperity, etc. These externalities must be assessed in order to enhance responsible politics' choice of the best bioenergy routes to support through incentives as subsidies or quotas. The aim of this research project is to enhance the political choice of bioenergy routes to support through incentives as subsidies or quotas. Design/methodology/approach: From the literature review and assessment of certification initiatives, the paper has derived a list of environmental externalities, i.e. environmental sustainability criteria, and a list of socio-economic externalities, i.e. socio-economic sustainability criteria, to be taken into account in bioenergy routes evaluation. Environmental and socio-economic externalities selected are interlinked and cannot be assessed in isolation. They are thus articulated into a qualitative model, which defines links between externalities and characterizes them into positive or negative correlations, and indeterminate relations. Findings: From this model, it appears that many interactions between environmental externalities or between socio-economic externalities from bioenergy are not straightforward. Many of them are time or space-dependent. Agricultural practices vary from one region to another; indirect effects are far from being understood and assessed correctly, long-term effects of climate change are still unknown, etc. Moreover, environmental externalities should be articulated together with socio-economic externalities. Practical implications: On the basis of the consolidated qualitative model, a quantitative model will be built. It will enable the monetization of externalities and their introduction in a political decision-making tool. This tool will help politics to compare different bioenergy routes and choose the best according to their sustainability. Originality/value: The quantitative model should allow the monetization of externalities and their introduction in a political decision-making tool. This instrument will help politics to take into account sustainability in their comparison of different bioenergy routes when they want to promote: employment, GHG emissions reduction, biodiversity conservation, etc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)812-829
Number of pages18
JournalManagement of Environmental Quality: An International Journal
Volume21
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010

Keywords

  • Economic sustainability
  • Emission
  • Global warming
  • Renewable energy
  • Socio-economic regions

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