Edited by Robert U. Ayres and Leslie W. Ayres
Chapter 20: Industrial ecology and technology policy: Japanese experience
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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