Guiding Principles for Sustainable Biofuels in Canada

In recognition of the potential contributions of biofuels towards a more sustainable energy system, and their role in tackling climate change, the following Guiding Principles are presented.


These Guiding Principles represent a collaborative initiative involving multiple stakeholders. Their development has been coordinated jointly by government (through a Federal-Provincial Working Group on Renewable Fuels) and industry (through the Sustainability Committee of the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association). All those who participated in the process share authority for the development of these Principles.

For the purpose of this document, Guiding Principles are being defined as follows: Broad philosophy that guides an organization (industry sector, in this case) throughout its life in all circumstances, irrespective of changes in its goals, strategies, type of work, or the top management. Advanced Principles constitute principles over and above what is required by law (or principles not required by law in all jurisdictions).

All references to the biofuels industry in this document apply to both the production of feedstocks and the conversion of feedstocks to liquid biofuels.

The primary focus of these Guiding Principles is the production of biofuels in Canada. They also serve to reflect Canadian interests regarding the use of biofeedstocks and biofuels in Canada.

Objectives of the Guiding Principles

  1. The Guiding Principles are aspirational in nature. They do not serve the purpose of standards or law, or the development thereof, recognizing that Principles 1 through 5 reflect existing Canadian legislation.
  2. The Guiding Principles will inform Canada’s positions or representation in international processes (in addition to other sources).
  3. The Guiding Principles serve as a means of continuing engagement of the multi-stakeholder group assembled for the Biofuels Sustainability Workshop in Toronto (which represented a broad range of stakeholders on biofuels issues), and staying current on issues from various stakeholder positions.
  4. The Guiding Principles are a means of identifying and acknowledging areas of international best practices and Canadian strengths related to sustainable biofuels production.
  5. The development of the Guiding Principles serves as a way to inform public discussion about biofuels, to address stakeholder perspectives, and to assist in determining how to prioritize and address issues arising from stakeholder discussions.

Principles Addressed Through Existing Legal Requirements:

  1. The biofuel industry shall comply with all applicable laws of the jurisdiction in which biofuels are produced.
  2. Biofuel industry projects shall be developed and operated under appropriate transparent and participatory processes that involve all relevant stakeholders.
  3. The biofuel industry shall respect natural resource rights, such as land and water rights.
  4. The biofuel industry shall respect the protection of human rights and labour rights, and shall ensure safe and decent working conditions.
  5. The biofuel industry shall respect environmentally sensitive lands, ecosystems, and the quality of natural resources such as soil, air, water, and biodiversity.

Advanced Principles:

  1. Biofuels shall contribute to climate change mitigation by reducing life cycle greenhouse gas emissions as compared against the relevant fossil fuel baseline. Life cycle analysis of biofuels and fossil fuels shall utilize equivalent full life cycle system boundaries.
  2. The biofuel industry shall provide market opportunities for regional biomass producers, thereby contributing to social and economic development.
  3. The biofuel industry shall respect the goals of food security and sustainable biomass production.
  4. The biofuel industry shall be dedicated to continuous improvement in the sustainability of biofuels. The biofuel industry shall strive to make advancements in the overall economic, social and environmental performance of its technologies, processes, feedstocks and fuel types.