Swedish advisors map future resource policy

Committee concludes Factor 10 "too blunt," recommends focus on rationing, quotas

Efficient use of natural resources can best be approached by rationing or allocating quotas rather than by setting explicit overall resource efficiency targets, a Swedish government committee has found. It judges the concept of aiming for a "factor 10" improvement in resource efficiency as "too blunt" a tool. Its report goes on to recommend a series of specific policy changes to achieve more efficient use of energy, forestry and fisheries resources.

Charged two years ago with investigating how economic growth could be coupled with the efficient use of natural resources, the committee on the efficient use of natural resources reported to the Swedish finance ministry on Friday. It concludes that even though material and energy use is "substantially more efficient" than a decade ago, further policy intervention is still needed to stem increases in renewable resource use.

Indicators and targets based on total resource use, such as Factor 10, "cannot substantially" contribute to sustainable development policy because "too much information is lost" when basic data is aggregated, the report says.

Targeting specific policy problem areas, the committee recommends further increases in Sweden's carbon dioxide tax (ENDS Daily 21 September 2000) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and longer rotation periods for forests to benefit biodiversity and increase carbon dioxide absorption. It calls for fishermen to be set individual maximum catch levels within the national quota agreed at EU level.

Follow Up:
Swedish finance ministry, tel: +46 8 405 1000, a press release, and the full Committee report.

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