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Ossified materialism: introduction to the special volume on absolute reductions in materials throughput and emissions

Bleischwitz, R; Akenji, L; Bengtsson, M; Tukker, A; Schandl, H; (2016) Ossified materialism: introduction to the special volume on absolute reductions in materials throughput and emissions. Journal of Cleaner Production , 132 pp. 1-12. 10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.03.071. Green open access

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Abstract

Drawing from papers in this special volume (SV), this introductory paper on absolute reductions argues that the magnitude, scope and urgency of the sustainability challenge require a drastic change in global civilisation, including a radical transformation of the institutional arrangements and socio-technical systems that facilitate the pursuit of wellbeing. The authors of this paper identify four main challenges to absolute reductions, including: the resource-intensive conventional template for development, macroeconomic structures and trade policies creating burden-shifting and inequality, a resource-efficiency improvements fallacy, and the dominant consumerist culture and lifestyles. The paper demonstrates the complexity of translating planetary boundaries into boundaries for resource use and targets for absolute reductions, proposing a practical approach starting with defining footprints for water, land and materials, and then proceeding to set resource boundaries. In seeking potential solutions, the paper highlights research addressing materials and product substitution, ecological fiscal reform with measures such as carbon taxation, sustainable lifestyles, design for sustainability, eco-innovation, and management of power dynamics in the production-consumption system. We then propose six domains in a research agenda for future research. These include: moving from niches and demonstration projects to broader norms; addressing reductions targets and indicators to guide policy and action; including policy design reflecting complexities such as time-lags, the resource nexus, and positive feedback loops; global resource governance; and convergence pathways between over-consuming and under-consuming societies. These areas will provide the science that will inform policy and business decisions and guide the engagement of practitioners to work towards sustainability transitions to equitable, sustainable, post-fossil carbon societies.

Type: Article
Title: Ossified materialism: introduction to the special volume on absolute reductions in materials throughput and emissions
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.03.071
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.03.071
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2016. This manuscript version is published under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Non-derivative 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). This licence allows you to share, copy, distribute and transmit the work for personal and non-commercial use providing author and publisher attribution is clearly stated. Further details about CC BY licences are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0. Access may be initially restricted by the publisher.
Keywords: Absolute reductions; Social change; Natural resource consumption; Planetary boundaries; Natural resource targets; Sustainability science
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1502351
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