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David Harnesk (photo Emilio José Bernard)

David Harnesk


David Harnesk (photo Emilio José Bernard)

Biofuel policy and stakeholder perspectives in Sweden – Initial impacts of EU sustainability criteria on the biofuels sector and implications for land use


  • Sara Brogaard
  • David Harnesk

Summary, in English

Global demand for transportation biofuels has increased significantly stimulated by policy interventions seeking GHG emission reductions, improved security of supply and rural development opportunities. However the impact on an increasing use of biofuels on land use and cover has become a global concern. While policy interventions have led to increased use of biofuels, certification is often regarded as an institutional arrangement that can counter negative externalities. In the European Union sustainability criteria have been imposed on biofuels in order to qualify for government support and count towards national renewable energy targets set in the Renewable Energy Directive (RED). Biofuels, locally produced or imported, have to comply with criteria that as a minimum avoids the use of high biodiversity, high carbon stock land for feedstock production and reaches set levels of greenhouse gas emission reductions. Voluntary certification schemes in addition often also include social criteria such as land and resource rights, food security perspectives and labor rights.
In Sweden, one of the first countries to transpose the RED sustainability criteria into national law, a majority of the economic actors have opted for the national scheme supervised and regulated by the Swedish Energy Authority. More than one year passing since the first annual reporting of sustainability data, the aim of this paper is to analyse effects of this public-private governance initiative, emphasizing on perspectives provided by economic actors active on the Swedish biofuel arena. Acknowledging the importance of interlinking science and technology for sustainability with the perspectives of key actors, research design and analysis for this paper rests on three information attributes; salience, credibility and legitimacy (Cash et al 2002).
A questionnaire submitted to all economic actors required to report sustainability data in order to receive tax exemptions was used to inquire about aspects such as: a) views on existing and further development of sustainability criteria including stakeholder participation b) methods and costs of compliance c) broader range of mechanisms affecting the biofuel market d) future investment strategies in a sustainability context. Alongside providing recent experiences of sustainability criteria implementation in Sweden, we discuss potential effects of suggested amendments of the EU RED encouraging greater market penetration of advanced biofuels and on inclusions of ILUC factors for biofuels.
The study aims at contributing to the important question on if and how public-private policy mechanisms embedded in the EU RED can promote sustainable biofuels and land use practices in a Swedish as well as in a global perspective.


  • LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)

Publishing year




Document type

Conference paper: abstract


  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Conference name

Proceedings of the Global Land Project 2nd Open Science Meeting, Berlin, March 19th - 21st, 2014 :Land transformations: between global challenges and local realities. 229

Conference date

2014-03-19 - 2014-03-21

Conference place

Berlin, Germany




  • The Renewable Energy Directive and Associated Sustainability Criteria – Sweden in a European and Global context