Renovabio: Innovation and Sustainability at the New Brazilian Biofuels Policy or The Emperor’s New Clothes?


  •   Arnoldo S. Lima

  •   Toni Fabiano


Biofuel policies are an ongoing matter for both developed and developing countries. Brazil, a giant world producer, has a historical roll of regulations and laws that affect the sector. Nevertheless, studies from a political ecology perspective, which pay attention to the impacts of power relations and discourses in political outcomes are scarce. In this sense, we focus on the National Biofuel Policy (Renovabio), launched in 2017, to analyze discursive coalitions as well as perceptions from social actors settle in a biofuel production territory. We sought to understand contradictions between discourses and practices within Renovabio and how they reproduce traditional Brazilian Biofuel policies. To answer these questions, we used Atlas.ti software to support a content and critical discursive analysis in order to detect distinct perspectives, narratives and interests during Renovabio’s implementation. We draw on: i) statements from stakeholders, lobbyists, and Congress members; ii) Bills, Law Projects and ordinances texts from the special commissions and committees; iii) speeches from plenary sessions occurred on the National Congress; iv) Public Audiences contributions; v) articles from biofuel magazines and specialized websites; and, vi) digital platforms from lobbies and interest groups; We also conducted 24 interviews with community members, farmers, local government officials, civil associations, and industry representatives in the state of Goiás, a large ethanol/ sugar-energy production territory. Results pointed to a strong ecological modernization discourse deployed to justify the rapid policy implementation and to legitimize economic incentives, particularly ecological labeling/certification. Renovabio’s goals, speeches and practices are in many senses contradictory and reproduce problems detected in previous biofuel policies that dim legislative transparency, weakens accountability and tramples society participation and representativeness over biofuel development.

Keywords: Biofuels, Governance, Ethanol, Biodiesel, Regulations, Certifications, Discourse, Participation and Sustainability


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How to Cite
Lima, A. S., & Fabiano, T. (2020). Renovabio: Innovation and Sustainability at the New Brazilian Biofuels Policy or The Emperor’s New Clothes?. European Journal of Environment and Earth Sciences, 1(5).