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Unintended Environmental Consequences of Improvement Actions : A Qualitative Analysis of Systems' Structure and Behavior

Laurenti, Rafael; Singh, Jagdeep LU ; Sinha, Rajib; Potting, Josepha and Frostell, Björn (2016) In Systems Research and Behavioral Science 33(3). p.381-399
Abstract

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... (More)

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.

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Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Causal loop diagram, Consumption rebound effect, Incremental innovation, Systems' structure and behavior, Unintended environmental consequences
in
Systems Research and Behavioral Science
volume
33
issue
3
pages
19 pages
publisher
John Wiley & Sons
external identifiers
  • scopus:84923340510
ISSN
1092-7026
DOI
10.1002/sres.2330
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
5f3de831-6dd4-4dd3-ab0d-2f25ca8c1c44
date added to LUP
2018-06-23 14:07:10
date last changed
2018-07-01 04:55:04
@article{5f3de831-6dd4-4dd3-ab0d-2f25ca8c1c44,
  abstract     = {<p>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.</p>},
  author       = {Laurenti, Rafael and Singh, Jagdeep and Sinha, Rajib and Potting, Josepha and Frostell, Björn},
  issn         = {1092-7026},
  keyword      = {Causal loop diagram,Consumption rebound effect,Incremental innovation,Systems' structure and behavior,Unintended environmental consequences},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {05},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {381--399},
  publisher    = {John Wiley & Sons},
  series       = {Systems Research and Behavioral Science},
  title        = {Unintended Environmental Consequences of Improvement Actions : A Qualitative Analysis of Systems' Structure and Behavior},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/sres.2330},
  volume       = {33},
  year         = {2016},
}