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Presentation Biofuels Policy in Germany. Between Noble Goals and Vested Interests

Conference: Sussex Energy Group Conference 2010
25.02.10, Brighton (GB)

The heated public discussion about sense and senselessness of promoting biofuels has recently led to substantial controversy. While initially hailed to be the solution for various problems like climate change, oil dependency or rural loss of income, severe criticism concerning the environmental and social performance of first generation biofuels has been raised during the last years. Meanwhile, German biofuels policy, although very successful regarding the promotion of biofuels production and use, has undergone significant changes.

This paper seeks to explore the driving forces behind these seemingly inconsistent policy changes and to what extent these are to be traced back to changing actor constellations in this policy arena. What is of special interest in this respect is the ability of non-state actors to influence the policymaking processes. Therefore, the various actors having a stake in German biofuels policy are identified and the emergence of actor networks and advocacy coalitions and their strategies and resources are traced. Building on the analytical concept of the advocacy coalition framework, these actor constellations are analysed with a view to determine the coalitions between and the interaction of private and public stakeholders in the case of biofuels. The results shed some light on which challenges and political conflicts the public endeavour of transforming the current energy system into a low carbon one has to face and which role the various private and public stakeholders might play in this game. A discussion on this and a brief impetus on potential further research are presented in the concluding chapter of the paper.