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Eco Innovation Observatory

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Eco Innovation Observatory

on 30 August 2011

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Transcript of Eco Innovation Observatory

What is eco-innovation Eco-innovation is innovation that reduces the use of natural resources and decreases the release of harmful substances across the whole life-cycle. –EIO 2010 The understanding of eco-innovation has broadened from a traditional understanding of innovating to reduce environmental impacts towards innovating to minimise the use of natural resources in the design, production, use, re-use and recycling of products and materials. Technological innovation alone is not sufficient to enable the transition of Europe into a sustainable economy; the magnitude of the challenge also calls for systemic innovations in the way services are delivered and organisations are run. Public acceptance and social changes are key in this process. Why focus on resources The EIO focuses on material resources such as fossil fuels, minerals, metals, and biomass. Europe 2020: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth“Improving resource efficiency would significantly help limit emissions, save money and boost economic growth.” (EC 2010a).Resource efficiency and eco-innovation are two major cornerstones of the EU 2020 strategy, the major 10-year strategy for development of the European Union, presented by the European Commission in June 2010. Two out of its three priority themes are directly linked to eco-innovation, namely “smart growth” (‘developing an economy based on knowledge and innovation’) and “sustainable growth” (‘promoting a more resource-efficient, greener and more competitive economy’ Environmental perspective: overconsumption It is the human use (and over-use) of material resources that are linked to the most prominent environmental problems today, most notably climate change. Only in the period from 1980 to 2007, worldwide resource extraction and resource use increased by 62%. As materials and products are increasingly traded internationally, the environmental pressures associated with resource use are distributed across the world. Europe has become the world region shifting most of the environmental cost of resource use abroad. Political perspective: material security Europe’s dependence on materials imported from abroad is increasing, raising concerns over material security. Of all world regions, the EU has the highest net imports of resources per person. European industries and consumers are increasingly vulnerable to volatility, increasing scarcity as well as rising material prices. For instance, the price of many metals doubled or even tripled between 2002 and 2008. Business perspective: saving material costs Reducing resource use offers a significant business opportunity to reduce costs. According to the recent Eurobarometer survey, 75% of businesses in manufacturing, construction, agriculture, water and food services reported an increase in the cost of materials in the past 5 years. Nine out of ten surveyed companies expect material prices to increase in the future. 75% Case studies on material efficiency improvements in Germany have revealed that on average around EUR 200,000 can be saved per company (from a pool of around 700 cases in the manufacturing sector) with investment costs under EUR 10,000 for nearly half of the companies. € Cost structure in the German manufacturing industry in 2007 Saving material and energy costs
New products and services: new markets
New business models Economic Environmental Sustainable management of resources
Mitigating climate change
Improving biodiversity Quality of life and green jobs
Resource justice Social Material security Political Resource efficiency and the eco-innovation challenge Resource efficiency has become an “umbrella” issue included in various policy agendas and contexts. The Europe 2020 strategy regards improved resource efficiency as key for achieving both economic and environmental objectives. However, the resource-efficiency gains made so far have not been enough to change the trend in the absolute consumption of natural resources, which continues to increase in Europe and globally. The eco-innovation challenge is two-fold: to further improve the resource-efficiency performance of Europe and to ensure that those efficiency gains are not offset by growth in the total consumption of natural resources. Underlying Trends Although the EU has achieved a relative de-coupling of GDP growth from material use, the absolute level of consumption also grew. Macro trends: GDP, material productivity and DMC to further improve the resource productivity
to ensure that eco-innovations and their benefits are widely diffused in economy and society The Eco-Innovation Challenge to ensure that the improved productivity is not offset by the growth in the total consumption of natural resources Setting the targets for sustainable resource consumption The EIO puts forward Factor 2 (reducing consumption by 50%) to Factor 5 (reducing consumption by 80%) targets for the absolute reduction in material consumption by 2050 compared to the 2010 levels. Eco-Innovation Scoreboard 2010 Eco-innovation is not only about developing new products and processes; it is also about finding new ways to do things differently. These are often called social innovations and examples are emerging across society as people start looking for more effective ways to get things done. Motivations for changing behaviours may not just stem from a growing environmental consciousness, but also because it means cheaper, healthier or more equitable ways to achieve the same, or even better, services or functionality. Other reasons may include movements, like gorilla gardening, with political connotations. More radical social eco-innovation goes more into the creative potential of society and calls on people to be open to change. It may also lead to user-led innovation. Car sharing is one of the most classic
examples of social/service eco-innovation;
it challenges people to approach car ownership differently. At the beginning of 2009, approximately 380,000 Europeans were estimated to be members of car-sharing schemes. surveys reveal that 1 car-sharing vehicle replaces at least 4 to 8 personal cars. Product and technological eco-innovation are an opportunity for all European companies to consolidate their position and expand to international markets. Further, eco-innovation represents an opportunity for companies to reduce costs through material-saving innovations along international material supply chains. European companies are facing increasing competition as emerging economies are becoming more aware of the opportunities of green markets and material efficiency. Evidence suggests that dynamic developments in eco-innovation are happening in many economic sectors of emerging and developing countries, also in the form of so-called “frugal innovations”. These are innovations that bring products back to a level of basic simplicity, especially targeting low-income consumers. Following the economic crisis, many countries in Asia, in particular China and the Republic of Korea, pioneered an economic and employment recovery plan based in part on significant investments in a green economy. The transition to a low-fossil, carbon economy does not come without risks. Indeed, not only increasing demand per se, but also any increasing use of renewable resources will probably place increasing demands on land, minerals and other natural resources, which were not sought with such intensity before. These resources will most likely stem from abroad – and may trigger growth and development in extracting countries. On the other hand, problem shifting is a major concern. The question is, what can the EU do to prevent natural resources from becoming a curse to the citizens of resource-rich countries? Preventing the resource curse of the green economy Future Outlook:
Visions of a resource-efficient Europe EIO visions look beyond resource efficiency to ask what kinds of systemic changes are needed, and what the possible eco-innovations to get there entail. They are not scenarios or roadmaps, but should serve as a starting point for idea sharing and debate on long-term policy objectives. The visions are positive; to present this optimistic future the perspective of a citizen of the future (living around 2100), reflecting back on how sustainability was achieved, is taken. The transition and resource consumption targets Dematerialization and rematerialization The balanced bioeconomy Harnessing the power of the sun Around 45 tonnes/person (TMC, in the EU-15) were consumed annually in the year 2000. By 2050 a Factor 5 had been achieved, and in 2100 a Factor 10 (4.5 tonnes/ person). This transition was characterized by an increased mimicking of natural systems to create a more dynamic system of production, consumption and reuse. Systemic change was gradual: it began with greater life-cycle-wide resource-efficiency efforts, which triggered the need for better product design to optimise recovery and ultimately enhanced systems thinking in innovation efforts. As population growth steadied out, it became clear that remodelling and renovating the built environment were the most cost-effective options and that the existing building stock held valuable material components that could be mined for re-use (urban mining). Eventually, secondary sourcing of metals became more common than primary sourcing. As regards mainstream products, for instance, producers started selling the performance of a product, but remained owners of the good. This transformed the concept of ownership and product-service systems. It coincided with a slow change in consumer understanding of ‘living green’. Social values towards living space, mobility and ownership have adapted with the overall shift towards dematerialization. Whereas at the beginning of the century the net additions to stock (annual additions to buildings and infrastructure) amounted to about 10 t/cap in Europe, it has reached values around zero today. This does not mean that the economy has come to a standstill, but rather that economic growth and physical growth are no longer co-dependent. In 2100 solar energy is not only used for heat and electricity production, but also indirectly for the synthesis of materials. This process was dubbed ‘Industrial photosynthesis’, meaning the use of captured carbon dioxide and solar energy to produce energy rich compounds for materials and fuels. This effort, which reached commercial scale around 2100, has made incredible gains in climate change mitigation and eased conflicts over land use and land use change. In the 2nd decade of the 21st century international conventions were formed that first abolished all biofuel quotas and then agreed to halt all cropland expansion beyond 2020. Forced to use land resources more effectively, massive efficiency gains across the food chain—from “the field to the fork”—were made. Organic wastes were found to be an excellent feedstock for refinement and biorefineries eventually developed into processing and re-processing facilities, as well as decentralized energy suppliers. At the end of the century, industrial photosynthesis made it possible to rely more heavily on biomaterials and bioenergy, only supply was not based entirely on land or ocean based harvest, but rather represented the transition toward a sustainable economy, one built by mimicking natural systems of production and use. Main findings and key messages ➢Eco-innovation goes beyond eco-industries to encompass innovation in the way resources are sourced and products are designed, produced, used, re-used and recycled across all sectors. This includes technological and non-technological changes that benefit both the economy and environment. Many European companies implement eco-innovation, but the majority either still do not eco-innovate or the material savings achieved due to innovation are low. Strong eco-innovation performance in terms of company investments and activities are not automatically linked to strong environmental outcomes on the macro-scale. The potential for eco-innovation and the capacity to benefit from eco-innovation are different across EU regions and sectors. Eco-innovation may not only present the opportunity for emerging regions to ‘leap-frog’ toward ‘green economies’, but may also offer them the opportunity to develop new lead markets. Achieving the goal of a resource-efficient Europe represents a challenge for all EU countries. Meeting Factor 2 to Factor 5 material consumption targets will require an intensification of public policies and private investments towards both resource-efficiency and absolute dematerialization. This report has shown that the potential for instigating meaningful change through eco-innovation exists. While it has focused on the resource-saving efforts of European companies (achieving more with less), more radical innovations both in companies and across economies are needed (we must do better with less). Visions reveal that a combination of all types of innovation may contribute to creating a prosperous and resource-efficient Europe in yet unforeseen ways. READ MORE: http://www.google.co.uk/
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