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Eco-efficiency guiding micro-level actions towards sustainability: Ten basic steps for analysis

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  • Huppes, Gjalt
  • Ishikawa, Masanobu

Abstract

This paper looks at the compatibility between technological improvements at the micro-level and sustainability at the macro-level. The two main approaches to prevent environmental degradation are technological improvement and economic degrowth. How do we establish the sustainability of technological options? LCA-type analysis of the technology system, combined with economic cost analysis, offers a first integrated eco-efficiency score. However, such a technology analysis focuses on micro-level technology relations only, is usually too optimistic and ignores other constraints implied in a choice. Fitting more comprehensive knowledge into the sustainability evaluation of options requires a unifying systematic framework, which is worked out in the present paper as a ten-step procedure. The integrative framework for empirical analysis is ultimately a comparative-static systems analysis at macro-level, not in a deterministic dynamic mode, which is impossible, but as a knowledge-fed scenario analysis. The analysis shows the change in society's overall eco-efficiency, combining total value creation with total environmental impacts. Possible domains of application include not only technology choices like those in eco-innovation, including changed consumption styles and volumes, but also changes in policies regarding technologies and markets, whether direct policy shifts or indirect changes through institutional adaptations. Ultimately, such a framework also allows culturally framed questions about the type of society we would like to live in, to be analysed in terms of their economic and environmental consequences.

Suggested Citation

  • Huppes, Gjalt & Ishikawa, Masanobu, 2009. "Eco-efficiency guiding micro-level actions towards sustainability: Ten basic steps for analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(6), pages 1687-1700, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:68:y:2009:i:6:p:1687-1700
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dietz, Simon & Neumayer, Eric, 2007. "Weak and strong sustainability in the SEEA: Concepts and measurement," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(4), pages 617-626, March.
    2. Huppes, Gjalt & Ishikawa, Masanobu, 2007. "Sustainability evaluation: Diverging routes recombined?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 199-200, April.
    3. Searchinger, Timothy & Heimlich, Ralph & Houghton, R. A. & Dong, Fengxia & Elobeid, Amani & Fabiosa, Jacinto F. & Tokgoz, Simla & Hayes, Dermot J. & Yu, Hun-Hsiang, 2008. "Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land-Use Change," Staff General Research Papers Archive 12881, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    4. York, Richard & Rosa, Eugene A. & Dietz, Thomas, 2003. "STIRPAT, IPAT and ImPACT: analytic tools for unpacking the driving forces of environmental impacts," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 351-365, October.
    5. Faye Duchin, 2005. "A world trade model based on comparative advantage with m regions, n goods, and k factors," Economic Systems Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(2), pages 141-162.
    6. Huppes, G. & Davidson, M.D. & Kuyper, J. & van Oers, L. & Udo de Haes, H.A. & Warringa, G., 2007. "Eco-efficient environmental policy in oil and gas production in The Netherlands," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 43-51, February.
    7. Douglass C. North, 2005. "Introduction to Understanding the Process of Economic Change," Introductory Chapters,in: Understanding the Process of Economic Change Princeton University Press.
    8. Livio D. DeSimone & Frank Popoff, 2000. "Eco-Efficiency: The Business Link to Sustainable Development," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262541092, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Azevedo, Susana & Cudney, Elizabeth A. & Grilo, António & Carvalho, Helena & Cruz-Machado, V., 2012. "The influence of eco-innovation supply chain practices on business eco-efficiency," MPRA Paper 42704, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Andrés J. Picazo-Tadeo & Juana Castillo & Mercedes Beltrán-Esteve, 2013. "A dynamic approach to measuring ecological-economic performance with directional distance functions: greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union," Working Papers 1304, Department of Applied Economics II, Universidad de Valencia.
    3. Hideki Kobayashi & Masahiro Kato & Yukishige Maezawa & Kenji Sano, 2011. "An R&D Management Framework for Eco-Technology," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(8), pages 1-20, August.
    4. Aleksey Davankov & Dmitry Dvinin & Evgeniy Postnikov, 2016. "Methodological Tools for the Assessment of Ecological and Socio-Economic Environment in the Region within the Limits of the Sustainability of Biosphere," Economy of region, Centre for Economic Security, Institute of Economics of Ural Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, vol. 1(4), pages 1029-1039.
    5. Silalertruksa, Thapat & Gheewala, Shabbir H. & Pongpat, Patcharaporn, 2015. "Sustainability assessment of sugarcane biorefinery and molasses ethanol production in Thailand using eco-efficiency indicator," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 160(C), pages 603-609.
    6. repec:eee:ecolec:v:143:y:2018:i:c:p:37-46 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Picazo-Tadeo, Andrés J. & Castillo-Giménez, Juana & Beltrán-Esteve, Mercedes, 2014. "An intertemporal approach to measuring environmental performance with directional distance functions: Greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 173-182.
    8. repec:prp:uppmos:978-961-7023-53-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Rashidi, Kamran & Farzipoor Saen, Reza, 2015. "Measuring eco-efficiency based on green indicators and potentials in energy saving and undesirable output abatement," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 18-26.
    10. Klára Szita Tóthné & Eszter Siposné Nándori, 2010. "A Regional Evaluation of Sustainability with Special Regard to Social Aspects," Theory Methodology Practice (TMP), Faculty of Economics, University of Miskolc, vol. 5(01), pages 75-80.
    11. Wursthorn, Sibylle & Poganietz, Witold-Roger & Schebek, Liselotte, 2011. "Economic-environmental monitoring indicators for European countries: A disaggregated sector-based approach for monitoring eco-efficiency," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 487-496, January.
    12. Elisabeth Conrad & Louis F. Cassar, 2014. "Decoupling Economic Growth and Environmental Degradation: Reviewing Progress to Date in the Small Island State of Malta," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(10), pages 1-22, September.
    13. Korhonen, Jouni & Snäkin, Juha-Pekka, 2015. "Quantifying the relationship of resilience and eco-efficiency in complex adaptive energy systems," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 83-92.
    14. repec:eee:ecolec:v:138:y:2017:i:c:p:12-21 is not listed on IDEAS

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