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Thermodynamics and process analysis for future economic scenarios

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  • Robert Ayres
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    Abstract

    Economists are increasingly interested in forecasting future costs and benefits of policies for dealing with materials/energy fluxes, polluting emissions and environmental impacts on various scales, from sectoral to global. Computable general equilibrium (CGE) models are currently popular because they project demand and industrial structure into the future, along an equilibrium path. But they are applicable only to the extent that structural changes occur in or near equilibrium, independent of radical technological (or social) change. The alternative tool for analyzing economic implications of scenario assumptions is to use Leontief-type Input-Output (I-O) models. I-O models are unable to endogenize structural shifts (changing I-O coefficients). However, this can be a virtue when considering radical rather than incremental shifts. Postulated I-O tables can be used independently to check the internal consistency of scenarios. Or I-O models can be used to generate scenarios by linking them to econometric ‘macro-drivers’ (which can, in principle, be CGE models). Explicit process analysis can be integrated, in principle, with I-O models. This hybrid scheme provides a natural means of satisfying physical constraints, especially the first and second laws of thermodynamics. This is important, to avoid constructing scenarios based on physically impossible processes. Process analysis is really the only available tool for constructing physically plausible alternative future I-O tables, and generating materials/energy and waste emissions coefficients. Explicit process analysis also helps avoid several problems characteristic of ‘pure’ CGE or I-O models, viz. (1) aggregation errors (2) inability to handle arbitrary combinations of co-product and co-input relationships and (3) inability to reflect certain non-linearities such as internal feedback loops. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists in its journal Environmental & Resource Economics.

    Volume (Year): 6 (1995)
    Issue (Month): 3 (October)
    Pages: 207-230

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:6:y:1995:i:3:p:207-230

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    Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100263

    Related research

    Keywords: Computable general equilibrium (CGE); Input-output (I-O); life cycle analysis (LCA); mass balance; process analysis; scenarios; thermodynamics;

    References

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    1. Hildenbrand, Werner, 1981. "Short-Run Production Functions Based on Microdata," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(5), pages 1095-1125, September.
    2. Leontief, Wassily, 1977. "The future of the world economy+," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 171-182.
    3. Conrad, Klaus & Henseler-Unger, Iris, 1986. "Applied general equilibrium modeling for long-term energy policy in Germany," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 531-549.
    4. Lawrence H. Goulder, 1992. "Do the Costs of a Carbon Tax Vanish When Interactions With Other Taxes are Accounted For?," NBER Working Papers 4061, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Jorgenson, Dale W. & Wilcoxen, Peter J., 1990. "Intertemporal general equilibrium modeling of U.S. environmental regulation," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 715-744.
    6. Leontief, Wassily, 1970. "Environmental Repercussions and the Economic Structure: An Input-Output Approach," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 52(3), pages 262-71, August.
    7. Jorgenson, D.W. & Slesnick, D. & Wilcoxen, P.J., 1992. "Carbon Taxes and Economic Welfare," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1589, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
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    Cited by:
    1. Hoang, Viet-Ngu & Rao, D.S. Prasada, 2010. "Measuring and decomposing sustainable efficiency in agricultural production: A cumulative exergy balance approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(9), pages 1765-1776, July.
    2. Krysiak, Frank C. & Krysiak, Daniela, 2003. "Production, consumption, and general equilibrium with physical constraints," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 513-538, November.
    3. Viet-Ngu Hoang & Tim Coelli, 2009. "Measurement Of Agricultural Total Factor Productivity Growth Incorporating Environmental Factors- A Nutrients Balance Approach," CEPA Working Papers Series WP032009, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    4. Ayres, Robert U., 1998. "Eco-thermodynamics: economics and the second law," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 189-209, August.
    5. Viet-Ngu Hoang & Mohammad Alauddin, 2012. "Input-Orientated Data Envelopment Analysis Framework for Measuring and Decomposing Economic, Environmental and Ecological Efficiency: An Application to OECD Agriculture," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 51(3), pages 431-452, March.

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