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Bioenergy and social sustainability in Yucatan, Mexico: an elaborated understanding based on energy justice




Banerjee, Aparajita, author

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A few years back jatropha projects were promoted in Yucatan, Mexico like many other countries in the global south for bioenergy production mainly by federal agencies. The aim was that jatropha biodiesel projects would provide energy security along with rural economic revitalization. When the projects started their operations, community members living proximate to the projects got localized employments that benefited them in some ways. However, some years later, the projects closed down due to several reasons. In this paper, we present results of our qualitative study conducted in rural Yucatan to understand how the communities were affected by the projects, and how the projects did not ensure long-term socio-economic sustainability of the area. We also show that though the Yucatecan bioenergy projects were aimed to solve fossil-fuel energy-based problems like energy crisis and climate change at national and international levels, these projects did not solve localized energy-related problems. Community members themselves continued using firewood in traditional three-stoned fire pits for their domestic cooking while working in jatropha plantations for producing biodiesel meant for national or international consumers. Based on our results, we argue that while planning bioenergy projects or any other renewable energy projects, it is critical and just to ensure how such projects can improve localized energy access related issues especially when such projects are sited in marginalized rural communities.


Presented at the Environmental justice in the Anthropocene symposium held on April 24-25, 2017 at the Lory Student Center, Colorado State University, Fort Collins Colorado. This symposium aims to bring together academics (faculty and graduate students), independent researchers, community and movement activists, and regulatory and policy practitioners from across disciplines, research areas, perspectives, and different countries. Our overarching goal is to build on several decades of EJ research and practice to address the seemingly intractable environmental and ecological problems of this unfolding era. How can we explore EJ amongst humans and between nature and humans, within and across generations, in an age when humans dominate the landscape? How can we better understand collective human dominance without obscuring continuing power differentials and inequities within and between human societies? What institutional and governance innovations can we adopt to address existing challenges and to promote just transitions and futures?
Includes bibliographical references.

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human development
energy consumption
biomass fuel
renewable energy
energy needs
low-carbon economy


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