DIFFERENT PATHS TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE BIOFUELS? COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE INTERNATIONAL, EU, AND CHINESE REGULATION OF THE SUSTAINABILITY OF BIOFUELS
Biofuels are promoted as a type of renewable energy from biomass that replaces fossil fuels in transportation, in an attempt to achieve the three-fold objectives of energy security, rural development, and GHG emission reductions. However, the increased consumption and production of biofuels have been increasingly subject to criticism for their potential negative impacts on environmental and socio-economic sustainability, such as, inter alia, ecological and climate change impacts as well as negative social effects on food availability and accessibility. The environmental, social, and economic facets can be interconnected, and the potential implications may range from a local scale to the global scale, thus involving regulation in multiple sectors and at different levels. The concerns over sustainability of biofuels have already given rise to increasing discussions on how biofuels are and can be regulated to avoid adverse consequences, and eventually led to regulatory measures particularly for biofuels in various legal systems. In this context, this thesis is dedicated to a study on the theme of ‘regulation of the sustainability of biofuels’ consisting of research in response to the following three questions: 1) what the regulatory approaches to sustainability of biofuel are in the selected legal frameworks, 2) whether they include sustainability concerns in all the environmental, social, and economic dimensions, and, 3) does the concept of ‘global environmental law’ offer a prospect for an inclusive approach for the regulation of the sustainability of biofuels?
For the first research question, this thesis has respectively examined the regulation of biofuels in the international, EU, and Chinese legal systems in Chapters 2, 3, and 4 and then compared their regulatory approaches in Chapter 5. Due to the ‘mix’ of instruments from various sectors, the analysis in these chapters is framed according to the effects on demand, supply, and trade of biofuels, which respectively focus on whether and how the regulatory measures constrain the demand and supply of unsustainable biofuels as well as their external influences.
In Chapter 2, in the absence of a specific international legal framework for the sustainability of biofuels, the international regime for regulating the sustainability of biofuels was mapped by looking into the different international legal regimes of climate change, biodiversity, socio-economic human rights conventions, and international trade law.