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Policy Review on Decoupling: Development of indicators to assess decoupling of economic development and environmental pressure in the EU-25 and AC-3 countries

Resource flows link the economy with the ecosystem and form the bridge between human activities and environmental impacts. The use of resources on the one hand leads to wealth and economic growth. On the other hand, it leads to problems related to resource availability, and to the generation of waste and emissions. In the EU, the decoupling of economic growth from the environmental impacts of resource use has become a policy objective. This study constructs indicators for resource productivity and analyzes why resource productivity differs between countries. In addition to traditional indicators like DMC and DMI, this study introduces an environmentally weighted material consumption indicator (the EMC) and an indicator for land-use. The traditional and new indicators are subsequently discussed and pros and cons are identified. An investigation into the driving forces of differences in resource productivity between countries reveals that the level of income and the structure of the economy are dominating factors. Countries which have developed an extensive set of policy measures to enhance resource productivity tend to be not more resource efficient than other countries that have not developed such policies

Authors CE

Sander de Bruyn
Geert Warringa

Delft, October 2004

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