Various actions have been taken by environmental agencies and ethanol producers to promote the environmental sustainability of Brazilian ethanol. The banning of cane burning before harvesting is one such action, since this decreases air pollution and CO2emissions. However, it also changes harvesting from a manual to a mechanised process and is thus likely to cost the jobs of the hundreds of thousands of cane cutters who are employed annually by mills and distilleries. This study examines the conflicts between methods for harvesting sugarcane. Frame analysis is used to explain the different frames held by the actors and to discuss options for conflict resolution. The complexity of sustainable development is illustrated by comparing economic and environmental improvements with the social situation of the cutters. The analysis also illustrates how the values orientating the frames held by actors influence the formulation of public policies and agreements among the actors.
Keywords: Brazil, environmental conflict, ethanol production, frame analysis, mechanisation, pre–harvest cane burning, sugarcane cutters, working conditions, social sustainability, environmental sustainability, job losses, air pollution, CO2, carbon dioxide, carbon emissions, public policy, conflict resolution, sustainable development, economic improvement, environmental improvement