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Sustainability 2016, 8(6), 517; doi:10.3390/su8060517

Evidence of Absolute Decoupling from Real World Policy Mixes in Europe

1
European Environmental Citizens’ Organisation for Standardisation (ECOS), 1050 Brussels, Belgium
2
Institute for European Environmental Policy, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
3
European Environmental Bureau (EEB), 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Vincenzo Torretta
Received: 8 February 2016 / Revised: 20 May 2016 / Accepted: 24 May 2016 / Published: 30 May 2016
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Abstract

In resource economics, decoupling from environmental impacts is assumed to be beneficial. However, the success of efforts to increase resource productivity should be placed within the context of the earth’s resources and ecosystems as theoretically finite and contingent on a number of threshold values. Thus far relatively few analyses exist of policies which have successfully implemented strategies for decoupling within these limits. Through ex-post evaluation of a number of real world policy mixes from European Union member states, this paper further develops definitions of the concept of decoupling. Beyond absolute (and relative) decoupling, “absolute decoupling within limits” is proposed as an appropriate term for defining resource-productivity at any scale which respects the existing real world limits on resources and ecosystems and as such, contributes to meeting sustainability objectives. Policy mixes presented here cover a range of resources such as fish stocks, fertilizers, aggregates and fossil based materials (plastics). Policy mixes demonstrating absolute decoupling and at least one where absolute decoupling within limits has occurred, provide insights on developing resource efficiency policies in Europe and beyond. View Full-Text
Keywords: absolute decoupling; aggregates; European Union; ex-post; fertilizers; fish stocks; plastics; policy mixes; productivity; resource efficiency absolute decoupling; aggregates; European Union; ex-post; fertilizers; fish stocks; plastics; policy mixes; productivity; resource efficiency
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Fedrigo-Fazio, D.; Schweitzer, J.-P.; ten Brink, P.; Mazza, L.; Ratliff, A.; Watkins, E. Evidence of Absolute Decoupling from Real World Policy Mixes in Europe. Sustainability 2016, 8, 517.

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