Sustainability indicators: planning ethanol by strategic environmental assessment


Sugarcane ethanol has becoming a promise for partial replacing fossil fuel around the world. In Brazil it is already reality. By planting sugarcane for obtaining ethanol creates global concern over the extent to which the indirect effects of large scale land use change are being evaluated. Despite the benefits from applying environmental tools in the sugarcane ethanol sector, there is a common lack of using a strategic tool for evaluating the planning of this expansion provided in the energetic national plan for more than 4 million hectares for the next decade. Considering the potential contributions of impact assessment to this context, this paper proposes a SEA guideline to conduct the expansion of the industry based on SEA Directive European 2004, as presented by Partidário (2007). This proposition focuses on the watershed boundaries. In order to test the guideline, it was applied to a watershed which is threatened by scarcity of water and pressure over biodiversity and where sugarcane expansion is expected. Nine strategic issues were identified and five strategic decision conditions were linked with them. For each with them we correlate relevant sustainability aspects that resulting in 44 sustainability indicators in total. For the 44 selected indicators, 31 (79%) have available data, easily accessible. These indicators can dynamically evaluate environmental sustainability aspects of the expansion of sugarcane crops for ethanol production, and thus they can show the feasibility of SEA of plans and other strategic decisions related to this issue. For the remaining 13 indicators which data were not obtained, there are two possible paths: supplying the data by the responsible agencies or replacing these indicators in order to establish adequate others with available data. The proposed SEA guideline can be applied for planning expansion of sugarcane crop for ethanol production, thus validating the initial hypothesis in ensuring the sustainability of this sector. The case study indicates a high potential for a complete application of this guideline using existing data, which can support more sustainable decision for taking decision in cropping sugarcane for ethanol.

GALLARDO, Amarilis Lucia Casteli Figueiredo; BRAGA, Tania de Oliveira; DUARTE, Carla Grigoletto; SOUZA, Caroline Almeida; SOLERA, Maria Lucia; SANTOS, Wellington Gomes dos; CERMINARO, Ana Clara; DIBO, Ana Paula; SILVA, Ana Paula Souza. Sustainability indicators: planning ethanol by strategic environmental assessment. In: ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR IMPACT ASSESSMENT, 33., 2013, Calgary. Proceedings…. Calgary: AIA, 2013. p. 1-6.


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