Unintended environmental consequences of improvement actions: A qualitative analysis of systems' structure and behavior
2015 (English)In: Systems research and behavioral science, ISSN 1092-7026, E-ISSN 1099-1743Article in journal (Refereed) Published
We qualitatively analysed how and why environmental improvement actions often lead to unintended environmental consequences. Different theories are integrated to delineate the underlying system structure causing this system behavior. Causal loop diagram technique is utilized to explore and visualize: how incremental improvements in material and energy efficiency can unintendedly cause consumption to increase; how this consumption rebound effect is linked to generation of waste and pollution; and how this can give rise to social and negative externalities, economic inequalities and other broad unintended consequences in our society. Consumption and incremental innovation are found to be the highest leverage points and reinforcing factors driving unintended environmental consequences in this complex system. The paper in addition explores two potential modes of behaviour dissimilar to those of unintended environmental consequences. These emerging modes of behaviour are product-service systems and environmental policy instruments. Their combination forms a prominent transition pathway from a production-consumption-dispose economy to a so-called circular economy.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
John Wiley & Sons, 2015.
Unintended environmental consequences; incremental innovation, consumption rebound effect; causal loop diagram.
Research subject Industrial Ecology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-164870DOI: 10.1002/sres.2330ISI: 000379955400006ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84923340510OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-164870DiVA: diva2:806356
QC 201608122015-04-202015-04-202016-08-12Bibliographically approved