International Trade in Biofuels: Legal and Regulatory

Jeremy de Beer
Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

Stuart J. Smyth
Research Scientist, Department of Bioresource Policy, Business and Economics, University of Saskatchewan

The promotion of the biofuels industry has emerged as a significant part of many countries’ efforts to address global problems ranging from environmental sustainability and climate change to economic growth and energy security. However, the adoption and proliferation of different technical standards, classification systems, and international regimes for biofuels governance may undermine the potential for international trade and development in the biofuels sector. Policymakers must ensure that national and sub-national rules governing biofuels are developed in view of the evolving (and often internally inconsistent) framework of international law. Overcoming current regulatory challenges to the economic viability of biofuels production and trade will require governments to engage in collaborative negotiations that recognize and validate the multi-level nature of biofuels governance.

This article, therefore, begins to connect cross-disciplinary literatures on biofuel policy issues with discussion of specific examples of laws, regulations and standards governing—formally and informally supporting and constraining—this sector. The central objective here is to map the regulatory and governance structures around biofuels in order to reveal the entire emerging landscape, and to situate this landscape within the analytical framework of multi-level, network governance.

Related Materials:

  • Published paper on the Estey Centre Journal of International Law and Trade Policy website
  • Share this post

    About the Project

    The goal of this project is to shed light on the relationship between economic activity and the environment by exploring the linkages between changes in our natural capital and our measures of productivity generally, and through the construction of an environmentally adjusted measure of productivity specifically.

    While it is now commonly accepted that economic activity and the state of our environment are linked, many economic measures still fail to incorporate the environment – both the things we draw from it and the pollution we release into it. By developing and calculating measures of productivity that include natural capital, Canada may be able to better understand these linkages. This, in turn, may lead to the identification of strategies that can help Canada become more efficient and innovative in the use and protection of natural capital, and thus more productive and more prosperous.

    Using the forestry sector as a case study, this project aims to construct an environmentally adjusted measure of multifactor productivity. In doing so, we aim to add another layer of understanding to the environmental and economic performance of this sector. The proposed measure will have relevance to the Canadian economy as a whole.