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Title: Connecting biofuel and deforestation control policies in the Brazilian Amazon : the case of Mato Grosso
Author: Freitas, Tiago Miguel D'Ávila Martins De
ISNI:       0000 0004 5372 0853
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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Biofuels are a major element of Brazilian geopolitics and diplomacy. They replace fossil fuels, thereby underpinning national energy security and contribute to Brazilian exports and influence in the world. Biofuels are also one of the GHG mitigation options in the Brazilian climate change regime. However, once land-use related emissions from biofuel crop production are considered, the environmental payoff is measurably diluted, illustrating one area where two mitigation instruments - biofuel production and deforestation control – can clash. Decisions on how land should be used, whether for food, biofuel production or environmental preservation are therefore crucial, intertwined as they are with land tenure systems and geopolitical discourses and practices. The thesis investigates the connections between biofuel and deforestation control policies in the Brazilian Amazon with two case studies in the state of Mato Grosso. With a qualitative methodology, the case studies analyse the political ecology of biofuel land-use in the production pathways of biodiesel from soybeans and ethanol from sugar cane. The study identifies weaknesses in the inclusion of deforestation concerns in biofuel policies and further contradictions on the ground, thus casting doubts about the real GHG emission reduction potential of biofuels. Furthermore, there are also clear efforts at legitimising biofuel crop expansion in the Amazon as a result of discourses and practices operating within Mato Grosso and at the federal level, in contrast to the international commitments on deforestation control made by the Brazilian government. Biofuel and deforestation control policies have been important elements of Brazil’s international ‘green soft power’ strategy, but their domestic contradictions, as the case studies show, are significant. This thesis examines these pressing issues in a novel way by combining a political ecology approach with critical geopolitics. It also provides the first in-depth analysis of this kind in the Brazilian context - a world biofuel leader - and highlights the need for further scholarship in this pivotal subject.
Supervisor: Bryant, Raymond Leslie ; Schofield, Richard Neill Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available