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The energy statecraft of Brazil: promoting biofuels as an instrument of Brazilian foreign policy, 2003-2010

Dalgaard, Klaus (2012) The energy statecraft of Brazil: promoting biofuels as an instrument of Brazilian foreign policy, 2003-2010. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The ‘conditionalist’ approach to the economic statecraft literature in International Relations and Foreign Policy Analysis seeks to establish the conditions under which economic instruments of foreign policy are likely to be effective. This thesis applies these conditions to a specific set of economic instruments of foreign policy, namely energy resources, the use of which is here referred to as ‘energy statecraft’. The conditions for successful implementation of energy resources as an instrument of foreign policy set forth in this study serve as a theoretical framework to test a specific case study of energy statecraft: Brazilian biofuels. The choice of Brazil as the only case study in this thesis is justified by its uniqueness in energy statecraft on two different levels: empirical and theoretical. Empirically, among the relatively few energy-exporting countries that use their energy resources as instruments of their foreign policy, Brazil is the only one that uses biofuels for that purpose, whereas other countries that implement energy statecraft mostly do so with petroleum and/or natural gas. Theoretically, Brazil’s promotion of biofuels to third countries is also unique because it is pursued through soft power – attraction by encouraging emulation of its own successful experience with biofuels – rather than through hard power: bribes or coercion. The case study is also analysed in the context of a decade characterised by energy security concerns, including worries over increasingly scarce traditional energy resources, skyrocketing oil prices, unreliability of conventional energy supplies, and environmental threats. All of these factors have boosted the advancement of biofuels worldwide. Finally, the means through which Brazil pursues its goal of turning ethanol into a global commodity is tested against the conditional criteria set out in the theoretical framework. The thesis concludes that this particular foreign policy strategy has been fruitless, with little progress made towards achieving its goal of ‘commoditizing’ ethanol in the short term, though its long-term prospects seem promising. Theoretically, the strategy’s ineffectiveness is attributed to the international context in which it took place, rather than any inherent characteristic of energy resources as an instrument of foreign policy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Klaus Dalgaard
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Coker, Christopher

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