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    Industrial restructuring for sustainable development: three points of departure.

    Simonis UE

    In: Change: threat or opportunity for human progress? Volume V. Ecological change: environment, development and poverty linkages, edited by Uner Kirdar. New York, New York, United Nations, 1992. 168-88.

    Man's envisaged economic conversion is integration of ecology and economy through reduction in resource input of production which results in a reduction of emissions and wastes that adversely affect the natural environment. Some industrial nations, the UN Environment Programme, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development already use environmental indicators of adverse effects of production (e.g., emission data). We know less about the environmental significance of input factors in industrial production and which indicators contribute environmentally significant information about the structure of the economy, however. Using data from 31 countries, not including the US, an economist demonstrates that delinking of energy, steel, and cement consumption and weight of freight transport from the growth of the gross domestic product (GDP) results in environmental gratis effects (rate of usage of input factors having a negative impact on the environment stays lower than the growth rate of GDP). It appears that the trend in developed countries is industrial restructuring. The conventional environmental policy is react-and-cure strategies on air and water pollution, noise, and waste. This costly policy needs to be improved by comparing environmental expenditures with data on environmental damage, identifying problems before ecosystems are destroyed, and incorporating cost-effective preventive measures. Environmental impact assessments are a means to accelerate technical knowledge and public awareness. Environmental standard setting should be a continuous process. Economy as it now exists indicates disharmony with nature (i.e., natural raw materials are swapped for produced waste materials polluting the environment). We should incorporate the external effects of production within our conscious or subconscious guiding principles, return the costs to the economic units that cause the environmental problem, and include the ecological viewpoint into all investment and economic decision making. We have yet to adapt a throughput economy (systematic reduction of depletable resources and generation of pollution emissions and wastes through recycling and clean technology).
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