Books  Sustainable Development  Energy 

Agrofuels: Big Profits, Ruined Lives and Ecological Destruction

By: Francois Houtart

196 pages, no illustrations

Pluto Press

Paperback | Apr 2010 | #184898 | ISBN-13: 9780745330129
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £17.99 $22/€20 approx

About this book

Since they were heralded as a key weapon in the fight against climate change, agrofuels have been criticised heavily for doing more harm than good due to deforestation and stealing agricultural land essential to farmers in the developing world. This book asks whether there is any place for agrofuels in a low-carbon future. Francois Houtart argues that the green potential of agrofuels has been wasted by businesses that put profits above environmental protection. This has led to the absurd situation where an energy source that should be sustainable actually increases human and ecological damage, simply due to the profit-maximising decisions of capitalists rather than a flaw in the concept of agrofuels. Students of development studies and environmental economics will find that this book offers an interesting new perspective on the future of energy.

This book presents the issue of agrofuels within the global context of the capitalist economy, stressing the role played by the oligopolies in promoting 'green energy'. Agrofuels provide no solution for the climate and they are marginal to the energy crisis. Above all they serve the interests of capitalist accumulation. This is the best book so far written on the subject. -- Samir Amin, Director of the Third World Forum in Dakar This book is a unique and important contribution to the debate on agrofuels. Firstly, it ... offers a much-needed political economic perspective on the issue. Secondly, Houtart dares to question the sustainability of the lifestyle encouraged by our consumer society. This book is therefore vital reading for all those interested not only in the question of agrofuels, but also in the direction of our civilisation and its shameful waste of natural resources. -- Professor Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food That solutions can be the causes of problems is well known and brilliantly illustrated by Francois Houtart's account of the nature, role and impact of agrofuels. Technically sound, socially thorough and politically grounded, it is also compassionate - see his personal account of the disaster for the poor wrought by agrofuels in Colombia. A highly recommended, balanced primer for anyone who wants to understand why agrofuels are spreading, who benefits from them and why we should - mostly - oppose them. -- Susan George, Honorary President of ATTAC-France and President of the Board of the Transnational Institute

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Francois Houtart is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the Universite Catholique de Louvain. He was chief editor of the journal Social Compass from 1960 to 1999, and the editor of Alternative Sud from 1994 - 2007. His previous books include The Globalisation of Resistance (with Samir Amin, 2002) and The Peasant as Actor (1982).

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