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Environmental impacts of products: Policy relevant information and data challenges

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Author: Tukker, A. · Eder, P. · Suh, S.
Type:article
Date:2006
Institution: TNO Bouw en Ondergrond
Source:Journal of Industrial Ecology, 3, 10, 183-198
Identifier: 239281
Keywords: Research · Consumption · Decoupling · Environmentally extended input output (EEIO) tables · Impacts of product · Industrial ecology · Integrated product policy (IPP) · Ecology · Environmental impact · Industrial emissions · Public policy · Decoupling · Environmentally extended input output (EEIO) · Industrial ecology · Integrated product policy (IPP) · Environmental engineering · data acquisition · emission · environmental impact · European Union · information policy · input-output analysis · life cycle analysis · product development · resource use

Abstract

The research and analysis presented in this special issue shows that the same limited number of consumption categories are consistently revealed to be responsible for the largest share of environmental impact: mobility (automobile and air transport), food (meat, poultry, fish, and dairy followed by plant-based food), and residential energy use in the house (heating, cooling, electrical appliances, and lighting). It appears that differences in impact per euro between the product groupings are relatively limited, so it is essential to reduce the life-cycle impacts of products as such, rather than to shift expenditures to less impact-intensive product groupings. Furthermore, the effectiveness of expenditure on material products to improve quality of life leaves much room for improvement. Environmentally extended input-output (EEIO) tables probably form, in this field, the most appropriate information support tool for priority setting, prospective assessment of options, scenario analysis, and monitoring. A clear benefit would result from integrating the input-output (IO) tables in the report to Eurostat of the 25 individual countries that make up the European Union (EU), with other officially available information on emissions and resources use, into a 60-sector EEIO table for the EU. This, obviously, would be the first step toward more detailed tables. Three strategies are suggested to realize the additional, desirable detail of 150 sectors or more, each achievable at an increasing time horizon and with increasing effort: (1) developing further the current CEDA EU25 table; (2) building a truly European detailed input-output table accepting the restrictions of existing data gathering procedures; and (3) as (2), but developing new, dedicated data gathering and classification procedures. In all cases, a key issue is harmonizing classification systems for industry sectors, consumer expenditure categories, and product classifications (as in import/export statistics) in such a way that data sets may adequately be linked to input-output tables. © 2006 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University.