What Can IE Give to the Global South?

Although there is some financial impetus for developing countries to adopt IE, this need not be the only motivation for adopting IE. Recent research has found that high levels of human development can be achieved at moderate energy consumption levels and, more importantly, that increasing energy consumption does not necessarily contribute to higher living standards (Fig. 11.2) (Steinberger and Roberts 2010) (Fig. 11.4).

Fig. 11.4 Human development Index for specific countries vs. energy and carbon emissions from 1975 to 2005. Regression curves for 1975 and 2005 are shown for reference (From Steinberger and Roberts 2010)

Challenges, Metrics and Models

This motivation to improve human development standards comes with significant challenges specific to developing countries, due to limited data availability. The IE community can provide significant assistance to developing countries by simplifying and downsizing data requirements to a point which yields sufficiently accurate results to inform policy. It would indeed be counterproductive if developing countries were to wait for economic growth to fuel complex data gathering operations that can in turn inform their sustainable development policies. Some of the relatively simple metrics developed in IE that can be used to inform specific policies are ratios of different materials to measure resource efficiency. These ratios along with the caveats that need to be kept in mind while incorporating them into policies are in Table 11.2.

In addition, IE research has developed frameworks and models that capture the complexity of real systems by integrating several IE-based tools, for example the social-ecological-infrastructural systems (SEIS) framework and LCA analysis in EIPs (Ramaswami et al. 2012; Eckelman and Chertow 2013). An example of the socio-economic metabolism approach is advocated in Chap. 6. The SEIS framework is currently being used to assess environmental impacts of emerging cities in USA, China and India (Ramaswami et al. 2015). A similar framework is the Integrative Regional Action Planning (IRAP) framework that integrates planning across undeveloped land, rural and urban regions (Jaderi et al. 2014; Van ZeijlRozema and Martens 2011; Huynen et al. 2004; Lowe 2006). Such integrative frameworks call for cooperation between various stakeholders and institutions for a comprehensive understanding of regions, their impacts and solutions. These inte-

Table 11.2 Metrics, policy guidance and caveats for some ratios for understanding ways to optimize of resource flows


Policy guidance and caveats

Virgin Materials Recycled Materials

Incentivize companies to pursue closing of loops rather than disposal of industrial residues. Policies need to clearly define virgin, recycled materials and by-products to avoid misrepresentation

Actual Recycled Materials Potential Recycled Materials

Industrial cluster level, city level and state level metrics to favour those that recycle more

Renewable FuelSources Fossil FuelSources

Individual companies, city and state level metrics to favour renewable energy sources. Although, in most cases a higher ratio would indicate lower environmental impacts, this may not always be the case. For e.g. biodiesel from palm oil extracted from plantations grown on destroyed forest land can have much higher life cycle impacts compared to fossil fuels (Crutzen

et al. 2008; Fargione et al. 2008)

Economic Output Material Input

This measure can be used to improve resource efficiency

grative frameworks may need to be adapted to suit developing country contexts and, in some cases, new models will need to be developed. For example, while smart cities developed in the global North may be commendable in their ability to capture complex impacts and employ ecological design, they may not address the economic and social constraints and challenges in the developing world.

The IE community can also offer solutions to contemporary challenges, including how to address the problems of rebound that arises from improving energy efficiency (Gillingham et al. 2013) and avoiding “lock-in” of polluting technologies in eco-industrial networks (Boons et al. 2011; Shi et al. 2010). Analyses on how to include these effects into policy are needed, not only in countries that already have energy efficiency and EIP policies in place but also those that are developing new policies.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >