Environmental policy integration in bioenergy : policy learning across sectors and levels?

Abstract: A central principle within UN and EU policy is environmental policyintegration (EPI), aiming at integrating environmental aspirations, targetsand requirements into sector policy in order to promote sustainabledevelopment. The focus of this study is EPI in bioenergy policy. Bioenergy isa renewable energy source of increasing importance in the EU and Swedishenergy mix. At the same time, it is debated how environmentally friendlybioenergy really is. Furthermore, bioenergy can be considered both a multisectorand a multi-level case, since bioenergy is produced in many differentsectors and bioenergy policy is formulated and implemented on differentlevels. Therefore, EPI in bioenergy policy is here analysed over time in twosectors (energy and agriculture) and on three levels (EU, national, subnational).A cognitive, policy learning perspective on EPI is adopted, tracingEPI through looking for reframing of policy towards incorporatingenvironmental objectives in policy rhetoric and practice. Furthermore,institutional and political explanations for the development are discussed.Paper I analyses EPI in Swedish bioenergy policy within energy andagriculture. Paper II analyses institutional conditions for multi-sector EPI inSwedish bioenergy policy. Paper III analyses EPI in EU bioenergy policywithin energy and agriculture. Paper IV analyses sub-national EPI in thecase of the Biofuel Region in north Sweden. The material examined consistsof policy documents complemented by semi-structured interviews. Together, the four papers provide a more complex and holistic picture ofthe EPI process than in previous research, which mainly has focused onstudying EPI in single sectors and on single levels. The study shows thatpriorities are different on different levels; that EPI has varied over time; butthat EPI today is detectable within bioenergy policy in both studied sectorsand on all levels. Policy learning in bioenergy is found to be mainly a topdownprocess. Furthermore, policy coherence between sectors and levels;long-term goals; and concrete policy instruments are found to be importantboth for the EPI process as such and for the outcomes from this process.However, when attempting to marry different goals, such as growth, securityand sustainability, in line with the three-tiered (economic, social, ecologic)sustainable development concept, environmental aspects risks not to beprioritised when goal conflicts arise. The study proposes that future researchboth continues the analysis of multi-sector and multi-level EPI, and furtherexplores to what extent ecological sustainability is improved by EPI.