The foundations of the environmental rebound effect and its contribution towards a general framework

D. Font Vivanco, W. McDowall, J. Freire-González, R. Kemp, E. van der Voet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The study of the so-called rebound effect has traditionally pertained to the domain of neoclassical energy economics. In recent years, other disciplines have applied this concept in the context of the environmental assessment of products and policies, and multiple perspectives have unfolded more or less in parallel. Among these, the environmental rebound effect (ERE) perspective, focused on efficiency changes and indicators that go beyond energy to multiple environmental issues, has remained relatively unnoticed. This article thus asks the following questions: What are the foundational aspects of the ERE and how these relate to other perspectives? Are there irreconcilable differences between perspectives? And what is the value of the ERE towards a general framework? We map the fundamental ideas behind the ERE and find that the lack of articulation has resulted in inconsistent usage and lack of clarity. We also argue that the ERE offers many valuable insights for rebound assessment, such as the study of broader efficiency changes and of innovations aimed at tackling multiple environmental issues. Perhaps most importantly, the ERE helps bringing together the existing rebound perspectives, as its application shows that it is both possible and valuable to articulate broader definitions for the rebound effect. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-69
Number of pages10
JournalEcological Economics
Volume125
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2016

JEL classifications

  • q57 - "Ecological Economics: Ecosystem Services; Biodiversity Conservation; Bioeconomics; Industrial Ecology"

Keywords

  • Consumption
  • Energy economics
  • Industrial ecology
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Rebound effect
  • Technological efficiency
  • SYSTEM
  • LIFE-CYCLE ASSESSMENT
  • PERSPECTIVE
  • CHOICES
  • MODEL
  • ENERGY EFFICIENCY
  • POLICY
  • TECHNOLOGIES
  • CONSUMPTION

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