Bridging the climate mitigation gap with economy-wide material productivity

Scott, Kate and Giesekam, Jannik and Barrett, John and Owen, Anne (2019) Bridging the climate mitigation gap with economy-wide material productivity. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 23 (4). pp. 918-931. ISSN 1530-9290 (

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Projections of UK greenhouse gas emissions estimate a shortfall in existing and planned climate policies meeting UK climate targets: the UK's mitigation gap. Material and product demand is driving industrial greenhouse gas emissions at a rate greater than carbon intensity improvements in the economy. Evidence shows that products can be produced with fewer carbon intensive inputs and demand for new products can be reduced. The economy-wide contribution of material productivity and lifestyle changes to bridging the UK's mitigation gap is understudied. We integrate an input-output framework with econometric analysis and case study evidence to analyse the potential of material productivity to help the UK bridge its anticipated emissions deficits, and the additional effort required to achieve transformative change aligned with 2 and 1.5°C temperature targets. We estimate that the emissions savings from material productivity measures are comparable to those from the Government's planned climate policy package. These additional measures could reduce the UK's anticipated emissions deficit up to 73%. The results demonstrate that material productivity deserves greater consideration in climate policy.