Because it is difficult to gain an overall view of the positive or negative impacts of environmental innovations on both the environment and the economy, the EMInInn research project (Environmental macro indicators of innovation) is aiming to put new indicators at the disposal of European policymakers.
This will help address a situation in which “the promotion of certain innovations, such as the introduction of biofuels or efficient diesel car engines, could be considered as progress, but it could also have negative impacts on the environment in European or non-European countries,” Dr Philipp Schepelmann, EMInInn project manager says.
Biofuels, for example, are seen as one possible solution to reduce emissions from transport, but biofuels policies have been criticised for displacing food crops and for encouraging deforestation if land is cleared for production of crops destined for biofuels. Diesel engines, meanwhile, reduce carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles, but increase emissions of other pollutants, such as fine particles.
In an effort to avoid unforeseen consequences, the project will bring together the available data on measuring the environmental impact of innovations and will attempt to create common definitions and methodologies. Once these have been established, the project will be able to carry out assessments and modelling of the environmental effects of innovation.
EMInInn will then - in liaison with experts, policymakers and other interested parties - investigate how the methodologies and indicators can be applied to European Union policies in three major fields: resources and waste, energy and climate, land-use and biodiversity.
Armed with such a set of indicators, “the European Commission and EU governments will be able to know where they are heading when they decide to promote innovations,” Dr Schepelmann says. EMInInn should provide a boost to eco-innovation by providing advance intelligence on the system-wide impact that new initiatives are likely to have. The project partners will report in mid-2013 on progress so far.
Duration: December 2011-May 2015
Partners: Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy (Germany), UCL Energy Institute (University College London, UK), Institute of Environmental Sciences at Leiden University (Netherlands), Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, Institute for Economic Research on Firms and Growth (Italy), Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Maastricht Economic and Social Research and Training Centre on Innovation and Technology at Maastricht University (Netherlands)
Project cost: €3,137,656 including €2,454,237 from the EU Seventh Framework Programme