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The Principle of Intergration 20 Years after Rio: EU Environmental Governance and the Case of Biofuels

By Pierre Cloutier de Repentigny


20 years after Rio, have we progressed in the application of the integration principle found in Principle 13 of the 1972 Stockholm Declaration the Human Environment, in Principle 4 of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and further developed at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development through the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development and the Johannesburg Implementation Plan? I propose to explore this question through the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive of the EU which has as one of its goal the sustainable development of biofuels, one of the most controversial forms of renewable energy. The Renewable Energy Directive requires member states to reach a certain quota of renewable energy which half of it must come from the transportation sector. Recognizing that this will likely require the extensive use of biofuels, the Directive establishes certain requirements to ensure that biofuels are produced in a sustainable manner. In summary, the principle of integration requires integrating environmental protection, economic development and human rights at the conceptual level of policies and laws and at the implementation stage of these policies and laws. Integration is thus a wide concept touching upon many issues of governance. True to the international statements on sustainable development, the requirements of the Directive reflect the principle of integration by trying to integrate the economic development of the biofuel industry with environmental concerns (mainly climate change and biodiversity) and, to a lesser extent, human rights (chiefly labour rights). These mechanisms take the form of sustainability criteria imposed on member states (to integrate environmental protection), and monitoring and reporting duties imposed on the European Commission (to integrate environmental protection and human rights). Integration through the Directive manifests itself, at least in theory, at the conceptual and the implementation stage. It seems, at least prima facie, that the Directive is a positive example of the “integration” of integration in governance. Nevertheless, the Directive has several lacunas, especially on the integration of human rights. The biggest concerns come from the globalized nature of biofuel and feedstock trade, and the application of the integration principle to non-EU states. How can we be assured of the sustainability of the EU system without some form of effective international governance on sustainable development? The EU Renewable Energy Directive is a good example of how the international community can deal with integration (at least environmental integration). Nonetheless, we must learn from this legal model to create the basis of a wider international policy (if not norm) on the principle of integration and sustainable development. Rio gave us the principles; let us hope that Rio+20 will give us the governance tools to properly apply them

Topics: Environmental Law
Publisher: DigitalCommons@UM Carey Law
Year: 2012
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