Does the biofuel industry, with the aid of certification programs, contribute to sustainable development?

James Michael Kierulff

Abstract

Despite being a source of alternative energy and an avenue for broad economic development, a number of biofuel producers have demonstrated that the biofuel industry has significant potential for unleashing social, environmental and economic harm. To largely avoid such perils, the industry must demonstrate that it is operating in a sustainable manner, contributing to the sustainable development of all stakeholders who rely upon the industry's responsible operation. Recently minted, internationally developed certification programs have been developed to move the industry into sustainable compliance and to offer a means by which stakeholders can incentivize the industry toward greater levels of sustainability practice. Using OLS regression analysis, this dissertation estimates that the industry is currently operating within the bounds of sustainable development as measured through the World Bank's sustainability model. This conclusion, however, is made with some caution. Many biofuel industry certification programs, despite covering a number of sustainable issues, have created loopholes within their criteria that must be resolved to avert greater long term damage to sustainable development. This work will conclude with methods and additional criteria that can be used to help move the biofuel industry toward more stable and sustainable development activity.