The scalar politics of sustainability
Bioenergy sustainability criteria and the rescaling of environmental governance in Europe
The European Union relies heavily on bioenergy production to fulfil self-imposed renewable energy targets,
but there are serious doubts regarding the overall sustainability and carbon mitigation capacity of bioenergy.
As part of the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive, bioenergy sustainability criteria were introduced to provide
a verification framework, safeguards and transnational standards for sustainable bioenergy production. Even
though and because the criteria have not been established to their full extent, energy biomass sustainability
has emerged as an object of constant environmental governance rescaling, where elements, actors and
knowledge from different governance levels are entwined. This paper employs a scalar politics approach to
statements regarding biomass sustainability criteria. Policy documents are analysed on the basis of spatial,
jurisdictional and temporal scaling to provide insights about scalar dynamics and mismatches. The governance
of bioenergy sustainability could be improved through better understanding and acknowledgement of the
different scalar aspects of issues as well as the processes of rescaling.