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Pathways to a Resource-Efficient and Low-Carbon Europe

Distelkamp, Martin, Meyer, Mark
Ecological economics 2019 v.155 pp. 88-104
European Union, climate, ecological footprint, economic impact, economic performance, environmental policy, natural resources, simulation models, Europe
Various environmental footprint concepts have already been developed and applied in sustainability research. However, these analyses tend to remain restricted to historical observation samples. At least in comparison with related research activities in other environmental policy domains (like, e.g., climate policy), it seems that applications of integrated assessment tools represent rather seldom exceptions within the resource policy domain.Our paper is, therefore, intended to strengthen the related evidence base. We present recent projections from the dynamic Multi-Region Input-Output (MRIO) simulation model GINFORS (Global Inter-Industry Forecasting System), which provide an outlook on global development trends until the year 2050. Our detailed material footprint and climate policy assessment indicates that a global agreement on a policy mix will allow a clear turnaround towards climate protection and a sustainable use of natural resources without deteriorating economic performance. If the EU decides unilaterally to lead the way, then this turnaround could also be achieved for the EU while the EU would also benefit economically from this pioneering role. A third pathway towards a resource efficient and low-carbon Europe quantifies the environmental and economic impacts of a strong transitional change induced by European citizens' commitments to far-reaching sufficiency objectives.