We cover a range of issues that bring economic analysis into policy making at the national, EU and global level. Our work focuses on different tools to support the transition to a green, resource efficient and circular economy including market-based instruments, cost and benefit assessments, sustainability indicators and environmental accounts.
We also explore the role of nature in the transition to a green economy and are at the forefront of analysis of the economics of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Our research aims to support the integration of environmentally-sound economic signals in decision making, to encourage recognition of the true value of environmental resources and ecosystems.
The ‘green economy’ is one that pursues human progress without exceeding ecological thresholds, that ensures sustainability and simultaneously aims to reduce social disparities. Our work in this area has focused particularly on the policies and tools that are needed to support the transition to a green, resource efficient and circular economy, within the EU and internationally. There is a wide and expanding range of options.
We have examined marked based instruments to support the transition, including the use of environmental taxes and environmental tax reform (ETR), assessed the potential for reforming environmentally harmful subsidies (EHS) and explored the setting of incentives that reward environmentally progressive behaviour. Our work also aims to contribute to an improved understanding of the benefits and costs of environmental policy to provide an informed and balanced view to policy makers.
The analysis and assessment of the multiple benefits of nature to people, society and the economy is another focus of the team. Our work on assessing nature's multiple values seeks to support the integration of such values in decision-making and mainstream biodiversity and ecosystem services in relevant policy areas (e.g. agriculture, cohesion, water). The Programme has made a substantial contribution to the important international initiative The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB).
Another area of our work is the development and uptake of indicators of sustainability which take account of environmental and social factors contributing to human well-being, going beyond measures of economic performance such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This runs in parallel with work on environmental-economic and natural capital accounts, exploring the use of such tools in policy. For example we have been supporting the European ‘Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services’ (MAES) process.
Plastic packaging is often presented as part of the solution to food waste, but this conflicts with waste linked to single use plastics. New research examines the role packaging plays in the food system as well as how supply chains and policies might be applied to reduce waste overall.
A newly published study for the European Commission by IEEP and partners investigates civil society’s role in improving the effectiveness of environmental taxes to reduce pollution and better manage natural resources.
Circular economy policies are proliferating and increasingly linked with other policy areas, including climate change. As seen at COP23, the circular economy can be better exploited to decarbonise the economy.
It is clear that the 2030 Agenda will not be achieved without a more circular economy.
If all citizens of the world were to have the same consumption patterns as European citizens by 2050, the resources of two planets would be needed. Ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns - through a circular economy - will have positive knock-on effects for a number of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
A new IEEP study has developed policy options to enhance the ambition of extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes for plastic packaging. The study explores the potential of more advanced eco-modulation of fees for plastic packaging, to better take into account its environmental impacts.
Globally, around 12.7 million tonnes of mismanaged plastic waste enter the ocean every year (Jambeck et al., 2015). This is equivalent to each citizen of the world dumping almost 2 kg of plastic in the ocean annually. Plastics and marine litter are one of the biggest environmental challenges of today. They are not only an eyesore, but represent major risks to human health and biodiversity, as well as to many sectors of the economy. So far global leadership and action on this issue has been lacking, but this is changing.
IEEP held a one-day conference in Brussels on 5 October 2017 to present the findings of a major study for the European Commission on the use of market-based instruments to address pollution and resource use.