Biofuel Discourses in the Multi-Level System – An Analysis of Discourse Coalitions in German and European Biofuels Policy
Biofuels are the object of many, sometimes heated debates, which affect many pressing problems of our time: oil dependency, rural poverty in developing countries and the uncertain prospects for agriculture in industrialized countries, energy insecurity and global warming. However, there is uncertainty as to whether biofuels in this respect are rather part of the solution or part of the problem.
Despite these uncertainties, the promotion of biofuels in recent years has been vigorously pursued. In April 2009, the European Union (EU) adopted a mandatory target of 10% renewable energies in the transport sector by 2020 for all Member States. In Germany, biofuels have been initially through a comprehensive tax exemption. This strong support of all biofuels, however, was modified in 2006 when the exemption was repealed and replaced by a binding quota.
An initial hypothesis of this dissertation is that the dynamic and sometimes contradictory course of the biofuel policy in Germany and the EU is a result of the abovementioned conflicts and the resulting breadth of interpretation, which provides the basis for (interest-based) interpretation conflicts. The biofuel policy in Germany and the EU is thus a policy field that is shaped by diverse interests and conflicting policy arguments. But how, why, and in what context do certain interpretations became dominant and manifest in policy decisions? And where do they come from?
These questions shall be answered in this thesis using a variety of interpretive approaches to policy analysis. The focus of analysis is the construction of reality through the political actors. More concretely, the discourse coalition approach will be applied, which makes it possible to analyze strategic actor behavior in the context of discourse and institutional practices, and thus to classify and understand the importance and relevance of the biofuel policy in a broader political or social context.
Thomas Vogelpohl is working at the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) as a member of the Junior Research Group “Fair Fuels?”, which is funded under the Social-Ecological Research (SÖF) programme of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) Potsdamer Strasse 105 10785 Berlin Germany