XII Harnessing the power of the sun In 2100 solar energy is not only used for heat and electricity production, but also indirectly for the synthesis of materials. This process was dubbed ‘Industrial photosynthesis’, meaning the use of captured carbon dioxide and solar energy to produce energy rich compounds for materials and fuels. This effort, which reached commercial scale around 2100, has made incredible gains in climate change mitigation and eased conflicts over land use and land use change. The balanced bioeconomy In the 2nd decade of the 21st century international conventions were formed that first abolished all biofuel quotas and then agreed to halt all cropland expansion beyond 2020. Forced to use land resources more effectively, massive efficiency gains across the food chain—from “the field to the fork”—were made. Organic wastes were found to be an excellent feedstock for refinement and biorefineries eventually developed into processing and re-processing facilities, as well as decentralized energy suppliers. At the end of the century, industrial photosynthesis made it possible to rely more heavily on biomaterials and bioenergy, only supply was not based entirely on land or ocean based harvest, but rather represented the transition toward a sustainable economy, one built by mimicking natural systems of production and use. Main findings and key messages ● Eco-innovation goes beyond eco-industries to encompass innovation in the way resources are sourced and products are designed, produced, used, re-used and recycled across all sectors. This includes technological and non-technological changes that benefit both the economy and environment. ● Many European companies implement eco-innovation, but the majority either still do not eco-innovate or the material savings achieved due to innovation are low. Strong eco-innovation performance in terms of company investments and activities are not automatically linked to strong environmental outcomes on the macro-scale. ● The potential for eco-innovation and the capacity to benefit from eco-innovation are different across EU regions and sectors. Eco-innovation may not only present the opportunity for emerging regions to ‘leap-frog’ toward ‘green economies’, but may also offer them the opportunity to develop new lead markets. ● Achieving the goal of a resource-efficient Europe represents a challenge for all EU countries. Meeting Factor 2 to Factor 5 material consumption targets will require an intensification of public policies and private investments towards both resourceefficiency and absolute dematerialization. ● This report has shown that the potential for instigating meaningful change through eco-innovation exists. While it has focused on the resource-saving efforts of European companies (achieving more with less), more radical innovations both in companies and across economies are needed (we must do better with less). Visions reveal that a combination of all types of innovation may contribute to creating a prosperous and resource-efficient Europe in yet unforeseen ways.
1 | Introduction eco-innovation observatory Are you curious about eco-innovation? Maybe you have heard the term, but are not quite sure what it means for you--as a consumer, a business owner, a policy maker. At the EIO we not only observe what types of eco-innovation are happening across the EU, but also identify future opportunities. We believe that eco-innovation represents a chance for companies to save costs and to expand to new markets, and that implementation of resource-saving eco-innovations at the company level could contribute to greater structural shifts towards sustainability in Europe. This first annual report is meant to introduce how we conceptualise eco-innovation and present our major findings, but it shall also go beyond that; we invite you, the reader, to take part in a debate with us about innovation, sustainability, and where the EU is and should be headed regarding both. It is a discussion that shall shape our future work and we hope to instigate it by not only presenting the work we have done so far, but also the key questions we will strive to answer with future analysis. To trigger the discussion we present a positive vision of the future, and aim to explore the eco-innovations that will drive this transition in our future work. This report includes a glossary to discuss and distinguish terms. Hyperlinks throughout the text enable you to navigate to and from this glossary. The report also includes a select collection of good practice eco-innovation examples from the EIO website. Chapter 1 takes a closer look at the definition of eco-innovation and the kinds of innovation this includes and excludes (section 1.1). It focuses on why innovation that improves resource efficiency is a major focus of our work, as well as of this report (section 1.2), and how this relates to the major challenges for the future development of Europe (section 1.3). Annual Report 2010 We invite you, the reader, to take part in a debate with us about innovation, sustainability, and where the EU is and should be headed regarding both. 1