Rethinking Climate and Energy Policies

The publisher about the book: This book calls for rethinking current climate, energy and sustainability policy-making by presenting new insights into the rebound phenomenon; i.e., the driving forces, mechanisms and extent of rebound effects and potential means of mitigating them. It pursues an innovative and novel approach to the political and scientific rebound discourse and hence, supplements the current state-of-knowledge discussed in the field of energy economics and recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Building on central rebound publications from the past four decades, this book is divided into three main sections: Part I highlights new aspects of rebound economics by presenting insights into issues that have so far not been satisfactorily researched, such as rebounds in countries of the Global South, rebounds on the producer-side, and rebounds from sufficiency behaviour (as opposed to rebounds from technical efficiency improvements). In turn, Part II goes beyond conventional economic rebound research, exploring multidisciplinary perspectives on the phenomenon, in particular from the fields of psychology and sociology. Advancing such multidisciplinary perspectives delivers a more comprehensive understanding of rebound’s driving forces, mechanisms, and policy options. Part III puts rebounds into practice and presents several policy cases and sector-specific approaches, including the contexts of labour markets, urban planning, tourism, information and communication technologies, and transport. Lastly, the book embeds the issue into the larger debate on decoupling, green growth and degrowth, and identifies key lessons learned for sustainable development strategies and policies at large. By employing such varied and in-depth analyses, the book makes an essential contribution to the discussion of the overall question: Can resource-, energy-use and greenhouse gas emissions be substantially reduced without hindering economic growth?

Table of contents

1. Introduction: Rebound Research in a Warming World – Santarius, Tilman (et al.)
2. After 35 Years of Rebound Research in Economics: Where Do We Stand? – Madlener, Reinhard (et al.)
3. Indirect Effects from Resource Sufficiency Behaviour in Germany – Buhl, Johannes (et al.)
4. The Global South: New Estimates and Insights from Urban India – Chakravarty, Debalina (et al.)
5. Production-Side Effects and Feedback Loops Between the Micro and Macro Level – Santarius, Tilman
6. Exploring Rebound Effects from a Psychological Perspective – Peters, Anja (et al.)
7. Towards a Psychological Theory and Comprehensive Rebound Typology – Santarius, Tilman (et al.)
8. Behavioural Changes After Energy Efficiency Improvements in Residential Properties – Suffolk, Christine (et al.)
9. Energy Efficiency and Social Acceleration: Macro-level Rebounds from a Sociological Perspective – Santarius, Tilman
10. Labour Markets: Time and Income Effects from Reducing Working Hours in Germany – Buhl, Johannes (et al.)
11. Urban Planning: Residential Location and Compensatory Behaviour in Three Scandinavian Cities – Næss, Petter
12. Tourism: Applying Rebound Theories and Mechanisms to Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation – Aall, Carlo (et al.)
13. The Internet: Explaining ICT Service Demand in Light of Cloud Computing Technologies – Walnum, Hans Jakob (et al.)
14. Transportation: Challenges to Curbing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Road Freight Traffic – Walnum, Hans Jakob (et al.)
15. Between Green Growth and Degrowth: Decoupling, Rebound Effects and the Politics for Long-Term Sustainability – Nørgård, Jørgen (et al.)
16. Conclusions: Respecting Rebounds for Sustainability Reasons – Santarius, Tilman (et al.)

The opportunities of the blue economy

Premise: Years ago some small innovative companies began to replace the petrochemical surfactants with biodegradable ingredients, fatty acids of palm oil. All the major manufacturers utilized the biodegradability with the result that huge areas of rainforest have been converted to intensive cultivation of oil palm. These activities taking out the orangutan habitat, chimpanzees and many other species, which in a few years have become a serious risk of extinction. In addition, palm oil is sent to the West and burned for electricity generation to replace oil, natural gas or coal. So in the end, the “clean” energy of the West is responsible for the destruction of the Indonesian rainforest, which strongly absorbs carbon emissions. The perverse use of CDM (clean development mechanism) and its CER (certified emission reduction) is another example of distortion of the green economy. Large firms and multinationals buying CERs from virtuous companies in order to fall within the parameters of pollutant emissions set by the Kyoto Protocol. In this way there is a substantial circumvention of the rules to protect the environment. The nation from which Europe imports more photovoltaic cells is China (with 3.4 md euros in 2010). The production of photovoltaic panels require a large amount of energy. In China, this energy comes from coal to four-fifths. The panels must be transported in Europe. In a paradoxical way, the production and distribution of the panels produces more CO2 into the atmosphere that avoids using the same panels!
In the last decade, we saw the race to the electric car, which locally produces zero emissions. If you produce the necessary electricity by burning coal somewhere else, we have moved elsewhere the problem without solving it. Europe proves to be still far away from an economic system that makes the environment one of its founding values.

Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012.

Decoupling: A Dangerous Fantasy

Teaser: Decoupling offers a dangerous neoliberal fantasy that we can overcome environmental limits to indefinite economic growth.

From the article:
. . . While asserting the necessity of dramatic decoupling for any hope of genuine sustainable development within a growth-dependent economy, in short, UNEP simultaneously admits that: 1) there is virtually no evidence that decoupling works; 2) the conceptual basis for even imagining it is weak; and 3) even if it were possible it would be politically infeasible.
Paradoxically, UNEP subsequently claims that even though overall resource use has risen dramatically worldwide “some decoupling of resource use from economic activity has taken place: the world economy has been dematerialising.” In this statement, astoundingly, intensified resource extraction is reframed as evidence of dematerialisation itself! . . .

Technological progress alone won’t stem resource use

Subtitle: Researchers find no evidence of an overall reduction in the world’s consumption of materials
Summary: While some scientists believe that the world can achieve significant dematerialization through improvements in technology, a new study finds that technological advances alone will not bring about dematerialization and, ultimately, a sustainable world. The researchers found that no matter how much more efficient and compact a product is made, consumers will only demand more of that product and in the long run increase the total amount of materials used in making that product.

South Korean Green Growth and the Jevons Paradox: An Assessment with Democratic and Degrowth Policy Recommendations

Abstract: The policy instruments at the core of the notion of green growth are central to the South Korea’s National Strategy for Green Growth (NSGG): (1) green stimulus packages; (2) “price-based” or market corrective policies; and (3) green research and development to bring about a technological shift that increases resource efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources. This assessment of the NSGG explores the potentials and limitations of (3) in light of the Jevons paradox, the commonly found association between improved efficiency and increased resource use. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and total energy use have increased since the implementation of the NSGG despite overall improvements in energy efficiency. We argue that the Jevons paradox is a fundamental limitation of the NSGG and suggest policy alternatives to the NSGG: (1) increased public participation in environmental decision-making and (2) economic degrowth.

Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 144, 15 February 2017, Pages 239–247

Between Green Growth and Degrowth: Decoupling, Rebound Effects and the Politics for Long-Term Sustainability

Abstract: Taking the simple equation: I(impact) = P(population) · A(affluence) · T(technology) as the point of departure, this chapter discusses the delusion of decoupling economic activities from environmental impacts by resorting to reduce eco-intensities through technological advancement alone. It is argued that the rebound effect is both a natural consequence of the growth dedicated society and a driver of further economic growth. Through rebound effects, labour productivity and eco-efficiency technologies in the growth society tend to contradict the goal of achieving environmental sustainability. To address the environmental problems, attention should therefore be redirected to the growth ideology and policy in current society. Drawing on the emerging degrowth debates in the affluent countries, the chapter proposes pathways towards a degrowth transformation by, respectively, discussing the role of population, affluence and technology in the attempts at reducing environmental impacts. Overall, it is suggested that from an analysis not confined to monetary terms, but with real cost and real benefits represented by environmental damage and human satisfaction, respectively, a degrowth in affluent countries can be achieved at no net cost.

Book chapter in “Rethinking Climate and Energy Policies – New Perspectives on the Rebound Phenomenon”
Editors: Tilman Santarius, Hans Jakob Walnum, Carlo Aal

Der Rebound-Effekt – Ökonomische, psychische und soziale Herausforderungen für die Entkopplung von Wirtschaftswachstum und Energieverbrauch

Die Erhöhung der Energieeffizienz – durch LED-Lampen, Hybrid-Autos, Gebäudedämmung usw. – kann einen wichtigen Beitrag zur Nachhaltigkeit leisten. Doch welche ‘unerwünschten Nebenfolgen’ haben diese technischen Lösungen der Nachhaltigkeit? Im Mittelpunkt der Arbeit von Tilman Santarius steht die Frage, inwiefern Effizienzsteigerungen sogenannte Rebound-Effekte hervorbringen, die die Nachfrage nach Energiedienstleistungen steigern. Seine umfassende Analyse legt dar, warum relative Energieeinsparungen durch eine absolute Steigerung des Verbrauchsniveaus oft teilweise oder vollständig wieder zunichte gemacht werden. Dabei betritt Santarius Neuland, indem er die Forschung über den Rebound-Effekt aus der Ökonomie heraus in weitere wissenschaftliche Disziplinen verschiebt und erstmals eine interdisziplinäre Betrachtung des Phänomens liefert. Zunächst arbeitet er kritisch den Stand der bisherigen Rebound-Ökonomie auf und erklärt dabei, wie Effizienzsteigerungen Preise verringern und Märkte verändern. Im Ergebnis erscheint eine Steigerung des Energieverbrauchs als wirtschaftlich ‘vernünftig’. Sodann erklärt er mit psychologischen Theorien, wie technische Effizienzsteigerungen menschliche Bedürfnisse beeinflussen können. In der Folge kann eine Steigerung des Energieverbrauchs gewollt und gewünscht werden. Schließlich zeigt er anhand soziologischer Theorien, wie Effizienzsteigerungen zur Beschleunigung von Produktion, Konsum und Lebenstempo beitragen. Und diese Temposteigerungen erfordern wachsende Energieverbräuche. Doch lässt sich unter diesen Umständen keine hinreichende Entkopplung des Energieverbrauchs vom wirtschaftlichen Wohlstand erzielen. Dies gelingt nur, wenn Techniknutzung, wirtschaftliches Handeln und menschliche Motivation wieder in übergeordnete gesellschaftliche Ziele eingebettet werden. Santarius schlussfolgert, dass erst ein sozialer Wandel in Richtung Post-Technizismus, Post-Kapitalismus und Post-Liberalismus die Voraussetzungen schaffen wird, unter denen eine sozial-ökologische Gesellschaftstransformation gelingen kann.
(Beschreibung des Verlags)

ISBN 978-3-7316-1176-9

The contribution of innovations in the energy system to degrowth patterns

Poster and Transcription of an poster session by Petra Wächter, Michael Ornetzeder, Harald Rohracher, Anna Schreuer, Matthias Weber, Klaus Kubeczko, Manfred Paier, Markus Knoflacher and Philipp Späth at the Second International Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Barcelona with the title “The contribution of innovations in the energy system to degrowth patterns”.

Link to the poster

Jeder spricht über VW, die eigentliche Frage wird jedoch kaum berührt

“Die momentane Diskussion um die Schuldigen bei VW und die Verbesserung der Regelwerke für die Messung von Autoabgaswerten bleibt jedoch nur an der Oberfläche und verfehlt den eigentlichen Punkt: dass die großen Konzerne in den Schlüsselbranchen der globalisierten kapitalistischen Wachstumswirtschaft – und somit auch die großen Autofirmen – verdammt sind zu wachsen oder sterben, was in beiden Fällen katastrophal wäre. Oder gibt es irgendjemanden, der oder die auf einem Planeten leben will, der langsam aber sicher an Autos erstickt? Während der letzten 10 Jahre hat sich die weltweite Autoneuproduktion fast verdoppelt von 44,554,268 in 2004 auf 87,037,611 in 2014. Nach neueren Berechnungen wird die weltweite Anzahl von Autos bis 2035 von 1,2 Milliarden auf fast 2 Milliarden ansteigen. Die ökologischen und sozialen Auswirkungen eines solchen Wachstums können nicht einfach durch technische Lösungen kompensiert werden, selbst wenn all diese Autos elektrisch und mit erneuerbaren Energien angetrieben wären. Alleine die Produktion eines Autos verursacht im Durchschnitt so viele Emissionen wie seine gesamte Lebensdauer mit Benzin- oder Dieselantrieb.”

Der Artikel hinterfragt die Autofixiertheit von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft.

Erschienen am 13. November 2015 auf dem Blog

Diesen Post gibt es auch auf Englisch

Degrowth of Production and Consumption Capacities for social justice, well being and ecological sustainability

Keynote by François Schneider at the Second International Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Barcelona on the topic “The degrowth proposal: what is it about, how do we achieve it?”

Abstract: It is commonly perceived that economic growth is the best response to economic, environmental and social crises. In this line growth policies indirectly increase the capacities to exploit resources by lifting limits to production and consumption at the macro level. To the surprise of many, the efficiency, sufficiency and policy solutions developed in a growth context continuously failed with the increase of world production and consumption.
The degrowth movement has been challenging the centrality of economic growth as an overarching policy objective on the basis of cultural, democratic, bio‐economic, environmental and wellbeing grounds. This article does not only challenge economic growth. It aims at identifying what actually needs to degrow. We reached the conclusion that the production and consumption capacity to exploit natural resources and humans needs to unevenly and globally degrow as a result of a fair and democratic societal decision. Done appropriately, this could prevent crises as well as the failure of efficiency, sufficiency and other political measures in general due to the so‐called rebound effects. The reduction of the production and consumption capacity to exploit natural resources and humans requires a combination of frugal innovation and adjustment in three large areas, namely resources, institutions and human behaviour.
Solutions that aim at finding and developing ways to consume and produce less are defined here as frugal or debound innovations. Rather than suppressing limits in order to increase consumption and production (done by so‐called rebound innovations), frugal innovations acknowledge and work with limits, creating then “debound”. Frugal innovations are successful only when accompanied by an adjustment, implying a macro level reduction of the consumption and production capacity. Adjustments, as defined here, are therefore the completion of the frugal innovation objective at a higher level. Degrowth adjustments adapt limiting factors (such as natural resources availability, infrastructure and time; finances and deregulation; needs satisfaction, unawareness and inequity) in order to prevent the rebound effect.
The article suggests practical examples of adjustment that can be undertaken at local and larger policy levels. Natural resource related adjustment is supported by policies that tend to leave more resources in the ground. An infrastructure adjustment policy measure would be a moratorium on road, incineration, dams, fossil energy thermal energy, cement infrastructures, etc. A time related adjustment would be a macro level reduction of working hours, or in general macro‐policies that reduce the time spent on resource intensive consumption and production. Finances related adjustment would imply going out of the “debt or virtual economy” and shifting towards an economy that considers a sustainable level of resource use. It would also imply replacing world currencies by local currencies. A regulation‐based adjustment would generally involve an improvement of social, environmental and product quality standards. An adjustment in the area of unfulfilled needs consists of supporting mutualisation, (in housing for example), and as well as sharing along material lives by planning reuses and recycling. A key degrowth adjustment dealing with awareness would involve restrictions to advertising. Finally, inequality adjustment could introduce measures like basic income and more social security in general, and income ceiling to reduce the difference between higher and lower salaries.
Finally, the production and consumption capacity to exploit natural resources and humans with different limiting factors brings tracks for a multidimensional quantitative and qualitative measure of the size of an economy.

Décroissance – Befreiung vom Wachtumszwang

Ausgabe von «antidotincl.» von der Décroissance Bern mit Texten von Irmi Seidl und Angelika Zahrnt, Ernst Schmitter, Mathieu Glayre, Mirko Locatelli, Helmut Knolle, Andrea Vetter, Christa Ammann, Alessia Di Dio, Sofia Getzin, der Moins!-Redaktion, Markus Flück, Mirjam Bühler.

Was ist nur aus uns geworden?

Teaser des Artikels: Die grünen Revolutionäre der siebziger Jahre träumten von einer besseren, umweltbewussten Gesellschaft. Heute betreiben wir Naturschutz mit den Mitteln des Kapitalismus. Das kann nicht gutgehen.

Abundant Clean Renewables? Think Again!

From the text: Zero-carbon, clean energy? Well, no. And yet, there are no large-scale energy sources with lower carbon emissions and less harmful environmental impacts than wind and solar power. As one scientist argues from the perspective of thermodynamics: “To talk about ‘renewable energy’ or ‘sustainable energy’ is an oxymoron, as is ‘sustainable mining’ or ‘sustainable development.’ The more energy we use, the less sustainable is humanity.”

Bound on Rebound: Die Effizienz hat Folgen

Factory: Rebound-Effekte sind der Dämon der technologischen Effizienz: Ihretwegen sind die versprochenen Einsparungen an Ressourcen nicht so groß wie erwartet, teilweise werden sogar mehr als zuvor verbraucht. Ohne Obergrenzen und Lebensstil-Änderung wird der Dämon wohl nicht zu bändigen sein, heißt es im neuen factory-Magazin Rebound.

Der Rebound-Effekt. Über die unerwünschten Folgen der erwünschten Energieeffizienz Kann die Wirtschaft weiter wachsen und zugleich der Verbrauch an Energie und die Emissionen stark zurückgehen? Diese Studie von Tilman Santarius geht der Frage nach, inwiefern Energie-Effizienzsteigerungen so genannte Rebound-Effekte nach sich ziehen, die den Energieverbrauch steigern und dem Ziel der Energieeinsparung zuwiderlaufen. Sie beschreibt die Vielfalt möglicher Rebound-Effekte und analysiert die Schwierigkeiten, sie mit politischen Maßnahmen einzuhegen. Das Fazit: erst wenn die Wirtschaft aufhört zu wachsen, kann der Naturverbrauch hinreichend verringert werden.