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The rebound effect: An evolutionary perspective

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  • Ruzzenenti, F.
  • Basosi, R.

Abstract

The rebound effect presents a major flaw in to energy conservation policies that aim to reduce energy consumption through energy efficiency development. Economics and energy related disciplines have thus far developed tools to measure such a phenomenon. This paper attempts to explain this seeming paradox using a thermodynamic-evolutionary theoretical framework in addition to the traditional economic approach. We here propose that evolutionary systems, such as biological or even economic systems, may rearrange themselves in a more complex fashion under the pressure of an increasing flux of energy, driven by the higher conversion rate of greater efficiency. Higher complexity, due to a greater energy density rate, counteracts the positive effects of energy efficiency. We investigated this hypothesis in the context of the road freight transport system and the productive structure. The qualitative analysis in this paper, further substantiated by figures, provides a link between the dynamics of production patterns and the effect of efficiency in the light of the macro-economic effects of increased energy demand. The analysis departs from a rigorous investigation of the actual energy efficiency evolution in the road freight transport system to develop through a survey of the subsequent worldwide economic revolution in the production system. It is then shown how outsourcing, the key feature of globalization, can be identified as the main source of traffic density growth. Finally, four paradigms are used to stress how the shift in the production system must be considered a leap in structural complexity that consequently serves to increase the frequency of components' interactions.

Suggested Citation

  • Ruzzenenti, F. & Basosi, R., 2008. "The rebound effect: An evolutionary perspective," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(4), pages 526-537, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:67:y:2008:i:4:p:526-537
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sorrell, Steve & Dimitropoulos, John, 2008. "The rebound effect: Microeconomic definitions, limitations and extensions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 636-649, April.
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    5. A. Greening, Lorna & Greene, David L. & Difiglio, Carmen, 2000. "Energy efficiency and consumption -- the rebound effect -- a survey," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(6-7), pages 389-401, June.
    6. Paul Krugman, 1995. "Growing World Trade: Causes and Consequences," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(1, 25th A), pages 327-377.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Hong, Li & Liang, Dong & Di, Wang, 2013. "Economic and environmental gains of China's fossil energy subsidies reform: A rebound effect case study with EIMO model," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 335-342.
    2. Freire-González, Jaume, 2017. "Evidence of direct and indirect rebound effect in households in EU-27 countries," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 270-276.
    3. Freire-González, Jaume & Font Vivanco, David & Puig-Ventosa, Ignasi, 2017. "Economic structure and energy savings from energy efficiency in households," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 12-20.
    4. repec:eee:energy:v:128:y:2017:i:c:p:28-38 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Picciolo, Francesco & Papandreou, Andreas & Hubacek, Klaus & Ruzzenenti, Franco, 2017. "How crude oil prices shape the global division of labor," Applied Energy, Elsevier, pages 753-761.
    6. Llorca, Manuel & Jamasb, Tooraj, 2017. "Energy efficiency and rebound effect in European road freight transport," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 98-110.
    7. Lin, Boqiang & Liu, Xia, 2013. "Reform of refined oil product pricing mechanism and energy rebound effect for passenger transportation in China," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 329-337.
    8. Karen Turner, 2013. ""Rebound" Effects from Increased Energy Efficiency: A Time to Pause and Reflect," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4).
    9. Galvin, Ray, 2015. "‘Constant’ rebound effects in domestic heating: Developing a cross-sectional method," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 28-35.
    10. repec:eee:ecomod:v:220:y:2009:i:16:p:1880-1885 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Jeroen Bergh, 2011. "Energy Conservation More Effective With Rebound Policy," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 48(1), pages 43-58, January.
    12. Galvin, Ray, 2016. "Rebound effects from speed and acceleration in electric and internal combustion engine cars: An empirical and conceptual investigation," Applied Energy, Elsevier, pages 207-216.
    13. Ruzzenenti, F. & Basosi, R., 2009. "Evaluation of the energy efficiency evolution in the European road freight transport sector," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(10), pages 4079-4085, October.
    14. Galvin, Ray, 2015. "The ICT/electronics question: Structural change and the rebound effect," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 23-31.
    15. Font Vivanco, David & McDowall, Will & Freire-González, Jaume & Kemp, René & van der Voet, Ester, 2016. "The foundations of the environmental rebound effect and its contribution towards a general framework," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 60-69.
    16. Gerardo Marletto, 2010. "Transalpine Transport Policies: Towards A Shared Approach," Articles, International Journal of Transport Economics, vol. 37(3).
    17. repec:eee:energy:v:128:y:2017:i:c:p:394-402 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Shu, Gequn & Zhao, Jian & Tian, Hua & Liang, Xingyu & Wei, Haiqiao, 2012. "Parametric and exergetic analysis of waste heat recovery system based on thermoelectric generator and organic rankine cycle utilizing R123," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 806-816.

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