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News and Media
New SEI report presents strategy for Europe to lead quest for a greener economy.
- There is potential for Europe to remain an attractive place for investment and industry while pursuing an eco-efficient economic strategy focusing on innovation and industrial renewal. But efforts must be intensified.
This is the gist of a recently published report by researchers from SEI and Lund University in Sweden. The report, entitled A European Eco-Efficient Economy has been prepared as a background report for the 2009 Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Download the report here
Stepping up efforts
The report describes the opportunities for Europe to become a leader in the global transition to an eco-efficient economy.
Eco-efficiency, which was first coined by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development in 1992, refers to the strategic quest to exploit as far as possible the synergies between climate and resource governance, competitiveness and economic development.
Led by SEI researcher Måns Nilsson, the report suggests a set of actions and agenda items to step up Europe's (and in particular the EU’s) efforts to foster an eco-efficient economy.
Increased technology development and stronger horizontal coordination
Three areas are considered to be strategically crucial for the development of a greener economy: resource systems efficiency, new technology markets and global carbon pricing. To achieve this, current institutional and political structures and processes also need reform.
First, it is necessary routinely to establish better knowledge systems and evidence gathering for policies and impacts in the policy making process. Second, policy making must be better integrated, vertically and horizontally. Third, it is necessary to develop governance arrangements that induce development and diffusion of specific technologies alongside more generic policies.
- It is technically possible as well as economically viable to pursue these strategies towards far-reaching climate, resource and development objectives. But they require policy actions and behavioural responses by companies and consumers - globally, Måns Nilsson says, stressing the fact that Europe's economy (and climate) is interwoven with the rest of the world’s.
Crisis creates opportunity
Financial recession can prove to be an effective show-stopper for long-term strategic commitments, but the recent financial crisis also offers grounds for optimism.
It has put additional pressure on European leaders to stake out the way towards an economic development that is able to generate investment, job creation and welfare while at the same time curbing energy and raw material prices, mitigating climate change threats and reversing the global tapping of natural resources.
- This is what the quest for an eco-efficient economy is all about. A global transition to a low carbon economy in order to tackle climate change represents a major opportunity for all countries to embark on cleaner development, Nilsson argues.
A downturn in the economy also crystallizes the opportunity to promote and invest in, for instance, green cars, efficient appliances, infrastructure, better insulation and alternative energy. These are all significant public-private investment synergies necessary for climate change mitigation, he says.
Download the report here