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Evidence of Absolute Decoupling from Real World Policy Mixes in Europe

Author

Listed:
  • Doreen Fedrigo-Fazio

    () (European Environmental Citizens’ Organisation for Standardisation (ECOS), 1050 Brussels, Belgium)

  • Jean-Pierre Schweitzer

    () (Institute for European Environmental Policy, 1000 Brussels, Belgium)

  • Patrick Ten Brink

    () (Institute for European Environmental Policy, 1000 Brussels, Belgium)

  • Leonardo Mazza

    () (European Environmental Bureau (EEB), 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium)

  • Alison Ratliff

    () (Institute for European Environmental Policy, 1000 Brussels, Belgium)

  • Emma Watkins

    () (Institute for European Environmental Policy, 1000 Brussels, Belgium)

Abstract

In resource economics, decoupling from environmental impacts is assumed to be beneficial. However, the success of efforts to increase resource productivity should be placed within the context of the earth’s resources and ecosystems as theoretically finite and contingent on a number of threshold values. Thus far relatively few analyses exist of policies which have successfully implemented strategies for decoupling within these limits. Through ex-post evaluation of a number of real world policy mixes from European Union member states, this paper further develops definitions of the concept of decoupling. Beyond absolute (and relative) decoupling, “ absolute decoupling within limits ” is proposed as an appropriate term for defining resource-productivity at any scale which respects the existing real world limits on resources and ecosystems and as such, contributes to meeting sustainability objectives. Policy mixes presented here cover a range of resources such as fish stocks, fertilizers, aggregates and fossil based materials (plastics). Policy mixes demonstrating absolute decoupling and at least one where absolute decoupling within limits has occurred, provide insights on developing resource efficiency policies in Europe and beyond.

Suggested Citation

  • Doreen Fedrigo-Fazio & Jean-Pierre Schweitzer & Patrick Ten Brink & Leonardo Mazza & Alison Ratliff & Emma Watkins, 2016. "Evidence of Absolute Decoupling from Real World Policy Mixes in Europe," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(6), pages 1-22, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:6:p:517-:d:71076
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    absolute decoupling; aggregates; European Union; ex-post; fertilizers; fish stocks; plastics; policy mixes; productivity; resource efficiency;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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