Modeling carbon consequences of pro-environmental behaviors of consumers in Spain
Authors: Cristina Sarasa, Rosa Duarte, Kuishuang Feng, Klaus Hubacek, Julio Sánchez-chóliz, Laixiang Sun
Abstract: Households, as consumers of goods and services through their lifestyles and spending choices, drive environmental change including both direct and indirect impacts. Using a recent social and environmental survey in Spanish households in 2008, this work evaluates the effects of improvements in the current environmental awareness of households considering different income levels. Alternative scenarios that consider higher shares of efficient electric appliances, healthier vegetarian based diets and modal shifts from private to public transport and their associated carbon emissions, costs and job effects are estimated using a Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) model calibrated on the 2008 Spanish data. This allows us to evaluate public policies stimulating environmental awareness and behavior change vis a vis a carbon tax and their compatibility of socio-economic benefits with environmental goals. The results suggest that reductions in greenhouse gas, methane and sulphur dioxide emissions might be compatible with increases in income and reductions in unemployment.
Revealing the ideas underlying scientific knowledge. The political ecology of virtual water in Almeria, Andalusia
Authors: Maria J. Beltran, Esther Velazquez
Abstract: What does virtual water conceal? Revealing the ideas underlying virtual water concept we aspire to show how critical approach of ecological economics can be complemented by political ecology theories. The discourse promoting both the concept of VW and the methodologies used to estimate VW flows is structured according to some underlying ideas that are framed within market logic and the rationality of international trade. Consequently, it produces a representation of water as a factor of production that does not challenge the hegemonic construction of water scarcity in nature, and proposes a water management system the main purpose of which is maximising efficiency in the use of the resource. We contrast this reflection with the reality of water in the horticultural sector of Almeria (Spain), with the purpose of bringing to light the aspects made invisible through the use of the VW indicator in a concrete case study.
Acknowledgements: The authors wish to thank the contributions made by Giorgos Kallis, Abel La Calle and Maria Kaika that helped improving this article. This article also benefited from the commentary from the anonymous reviewers, for which we are grateful. This work was supported by the Junta de Andalucia [grant no. HUM07922]; the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovacion [grant no. CSO2011-29425]. Beltran acknowledges support from the Marie Curie Actions – Initial Training Networks – FP7 – PEOPLE – 2011; contract No. 289374 – ENTITLE, European Network of Political Ecology and from the project ANR-12-AGRO-0002. De Terres et d’Eaux (TERRE-EAU). Programme AGROBIOSPHERE 2012
Will the momentum of the electric car last? Testing an hypothesis on disruptive innovation
Authors: Marc Dijk
Abstract: In this paper we study to what extent electric propulsion is disrupting ‘the order’ in the automotive industry with six extensions to Christensen’s notion of disruptive innovation (1997). For decades the automotive sector has relied on the internal combustion engine (ICE) as the established propulsion technology, but due to environmental regulation and geo-political scarcity problems associated with fossil fuel use, electric propulsion is increasingly applied as sole or additional power source. We elaborate the Christensen typology, rooted in industrial analysis, with a regime evolution framework based on changes in technology and the institutional context of production and use. We offer a hypothesis of conditions for market disruption and test this hypothesis against the development trajectory of full-electric vehicles (FEV). Drawing on evidence from a range of recent FEV studies, our analysis suggests that the momentum of the disruptive niche of full-electric mobility is currently insufficient to displace the ICE regime.
Heating system adoption and environmental impact: Insights from coupling an agent-based building-energy model with dynamic LCI data
Authors: Christof Knoeri, Maria Hecher, Stefanie Hatzl, Alfred Posch
Abstract: Energy demand from buildings not only accounts for a significant amount of the final energy use and offers massive savings in terms of environmental impacts, but also restricts the speed of change through the long lifetime of our build environment. In this study, an agent-based building-energy model portrays building stock’s energy demand and heating systems adoption patterns for a region. The key behavioural elements modelled are homeowners’ heating system adoption decision, reflecting the complex interactions between policy interventions, technical and social structure, and individual behaviour. Environmental impacts of the heat demand are then assessed with a dynamic life cycle assessment approach, where the output of the agent-based model is combined with life-cycle inventory data changing over time. The main goal of this study is to shed light on what policy instruments could be most effective in reducing environmental impacts caused by energy demand from buildings.
Modeling Evolutionary Institutional Change in Social-ecological Systems: An analytical framework
Authors: Jens Rommel, Christian Kimmich
Abstract: A wide range of methods has been successfully employed for evaluating the performance of static alternative institutions. It is much more challenging to study institutions if these are considered to be dynamically changing. Some experimentalists and modelers have recently started to endogenize institutions, i.e., they allow rules to be changed dynamically by experimental subjects or simulated agents. Focusing on social-ecological system analysis, we review the literature in this field. We show that institutions can be understood as hierarchically nested, with some higher-level institutions necessarily remaining exogenous to any empirical model. We propose a pragmatic approach to address the matter. Specifically, we develop a guiding list of nine questions, seeking to assist empirically working scholars. The list aims at ensuring transparency in communicating trade-offs faced when designing economic experiments or agent-based models with institutional change in social-ecological systems analysis.
Understanding the bumpy road to resource efficiency: from the concept of ‘barriers’ to ‘webs-of-constraints’
Authors: Marc Dijk, Teresa Domenech, Rene Kemp
Abstract: This paper argues that single factor explanations for resource inefficiencies do not offer a lot of mileage: in practice there are compound causes for why resources are not used more efficiently. This has the following policy implication: instruments that do not address systemic interactions tend to be ineffective. Therefore, there is a need for policy mixes that are mindful to web-of-constraints to RE. The design of a far-reaching policy strategy on resource efficiency requires systemic changes operating at different levels including business models, social consumption patterns, and regulation. After a review of the literature on ‘barriers to resource efficiency’ and a conceptual introduction of the notion of ‘webs-of-constraints’, the paper elaborates the concept of ‘webs-of-constraints’ in two case studies: one about energy efficiency in domestic housing and one about car mobility in urban areas. We give examples of policy mixes that adress web-of-constraints to RE in the two cases.
Environmental impact assessment of sustainable consumption and production patterns at macro-scale: state of the art, limitations and possible ways forward
Authors: Lorenzo Benini, Jo Dewulf, Serenella Sala
Abstract: Sustainable consumption and production (SCP) is intended by many to be a holistic approach aiming towards minimization of negative environmental impacts from the production-consumption systems in society. The way environmental impacts of SCP patterns are assessed at macro-scale has many different operational declinations which build on different theoretical backgrounds, accounting frameworks, as well as methodologies and underlying data. The mainstream methodologies which are currently applied to quantify the emissions and resources associated to societies’ SCP can be broadly grouped in three classes: environmentally extended input-output tables, process-based life cycle assessment and hybrid methods. Subsequently, accounting protocols such as ecological footprint and footprint families in general, pressure indicators and life-cycle impact assessment methods, are applied to these inventories with the aim of assessing the environmental pressures/impacts onto the environment. In this paper an overview of these techniques is provided along with advantages and drawbacks of each methodology.
Measuring transformation towards a Green Economy in Germany
Authors: Christian Lutz, Roland Zieschank, Thomas Drosdowski
Abstract: This paper reports results of the study „Green Economy: Measuring sustainable welfare using SEEA data“. It contributes to measurement of progress towards Green Economy and its understanding for political decision making process in Germany. The definition of Green Economy follows the BMU approach of 2012. The concept to measure the Green Economy, consists of six different dimensions: (A) use of natural resources and environmental damages, (B) natural capital, (C) environmental quality of life, (D) Green Economy: economic dimension and fields of action, (E) policies: institutional framework and measures, and (F) background information on economic and social development. For each dimension the concept includes indicators that can be generated from available data and in part have characteristics of desirable indicators. The concept is tested for Germany using scenario analysis (PANTA RHEI model) with regard to the energy transition (‘Energiewende’). Many indicators improve despite some trade-offs such as increases in resource use.
Appliances and home energy management: breaking habits and reducing consumption
Authors: Michael Peters, Shane Fudge
Abstract: This paper reports findings from a four-month study of energy consumption trends and use of appliances in five UK households. The main aim of the project was to provide some insights into the interrelationship between technology and education in driving more energy efficient consumer use of modern domestic electrical appliances. Selected appliances were montitored in all five homes, and in two, white ‘cold and wet’ appliances were replaced halfway. The study identified some disconnects between largely pro-environmental attitudes, and both stated behaviours and appliance usage – some of which were not maximising efficiency. It became apparent that some of those disconnects (or barriers) could be quite easily overcome when participants carried out a range of previously untried energy-efficient practices during a ‘test week’. The results indicate that even greater savings are possible by combining some behavioural change with the purchase and effective use of new energy-efficient appliances.
Beyond GDP - national accounting in the age of resource depletion
Authors: Michael Carbajales-Dale, Matthew Heun, Becky Haney
Abstract: The metaphor “the economy is society’s metabolism” acts as a springboard to develop a rigorous theoretical framework for a better system of national accounts going “Beyond GDP”; relevant to the age of resource depletion. We need a new way to understand our economy in the context of the biosphere’s ability to provide essential natural capital. Information about materials, energy, embodied energy, and energy intensity should be routinely gathered, analyzed, and disseminated from a centralized location to provide markets and policymakers with a more comprehensive understanding of the biophysical economy.
We develop a new accounting framework is derived from the laws of thermodynamics to reflect the fact that material and embodied energy accumulate within the capital stock of economic sectors. Implications from the new framework are discussed, including the value of economic metrics for policy-making, a re-assessment of the concept of economic “growth,” and an evaluation of recycling, reuse, and dematerialization.
A vision for a resource efficient Europe
Authors: Meghan O’brien, Franziska Hartwig, Jill Jäger, Karin Schanes, Moritz Kammerlander, Ines Omann, Henning Wilts, Raimund Bleischwitz
Abstract: This paper presents a positive vision of the future based on three pillars: a safe and fair use of global resources, a sustainable society, and a transformed economy. It is based on a literature review of sustainability visions as well as stakeholder workshops in the realm of the EU research project POLFREE (Policy Options for a Resource Efficient Economy). In particular, we focus on the targets underpinning our vision for living well within the global safe operating space of resource use. The state of research, rationale and research needs for potential dashboard targets in the four footprint categories — materials, land, water and carbon — are discussed. All in all, we present a bold vision for Europe, arguing that a resource-efficient transformation requires a systemic shift in values, innovation, governance and management regimes.
Explaining international inequalities in metabolic rates through some decomposition techniques
Authors: Juan Antonio Duro, Jordi Teixidó
Abstract: The main purpose of this paper is to analyse the degree of equity in the use of resources in an international perspective, through the use of instruments taken from the inequality measurement literature and for a reasonable sustainability indicator like the Domestic Material Consumption (DMC) per capita. The analysis is performed for a large sample of countries and the period 1970-2005. Specifically, the analysis also includes some inequality decomposition analysis that allow, for example, addressing different explanatory factors. Thus, the analysis includes the breakdown of this inequality by groups of countries based on different grouping criteria (regional, by level of development, etc); the decomposition by additive factors (for example, biomass and mineral and fossil fuels) and, in addition, a multiplicative factors decomposition (i.e. de-materialization factor versus affluence). We believe that this analysis is novel and provides relevant empirical evidence to the analysis and understanding of international equity in resources use.