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A Handbook of Industrial Ecology

Edited by Robert U. Ayres and Leslie W. Ayres

Industrial ecology is coming of age and this superb book brings together leading scholars to present a state-of-the-art overviews of the subject. Each part of the book comprehensively covers the following issues in a systematic style: the goals and achievements of industrial ecology and the history of the field; methodology, covering the main approaches to analysis and assessment; economics and industrial ecology; industrial ecology at the national/regional level; industrial ecology at the sectoral/materials level; and applications and policy implications.
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Chapter 20: Industrial ecology and technology policy: Japanese experience

Chihiro Watanabe


Chihiro Watanabe Despite many handicaps, Japan achieved extraordinarily rapid economic development over the four decades preceding the 1990s. This success can be attributed, in part, to technology as a substitute for constrained production factors such as energy and environmental capacity. While technology played a significant role in driving a positive (feedback) cycle of economic growth, its governing factors interrelate with each other as in a metabolic system. Consequently, during the ‘bubble economy’ in the latter half of the 1980s and its implosion in the early 1990s, Japanese industry experienced a structural stagnation in R&D activities. This, in turn, has broken the above virtuous cycle, and growth has stalled. The global environmental consequences of environmental emissions from fossil energy use are causing mounting concern regarding the long-term sustainability of our industrial system. The necessary response to this concern is to find a solution which can overcome energy and environmental constraints without destroying the drivers of growth. An approach to such a solution can be regarded as a dynamic game involving the ‘three Es’: economy, energy and environment. For simplicity, these can be represented as aggregate production (Y), energy consumption (E) and carbon emissions (C), the latter being a surrogate for all emissions associated with carbon-based energy use. Economic growth can be represented by the identity ⌬Y/Y ϭ⌬C/C Ϫ ⌬ (E/Y)/(E/Y) Ϫ ⌬(C/E)/(C/E). (20.1) Options for sustainable growth can be characterized in terms of the following variables: carbon emissions (C), energy efficiency (E/Y) and decarbonization or fuel switching...

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