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Conclusions

Clean(er) technology transfer is conceptually not so distinct from technology transfer at large. But it requires a higher intensity of cumulative knowledge in society. The ability of countries to respond to this challenge varies widely according to their capacity to manage technological change. Most countries on earth are small developing nations, which so far lack this capacity and are thus deprived of new opportunities for environmentally sound development.

The UNCED forum provides a new opportunity to redress this situation. From the Global Agenda 21 endorsed in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992 there should emerge National Agendas 21 for each and every country, based on a consensus-building stakeholders' dialogue. Consistent policies at the national level and a continuity of relationships in the international arena are at the base of any new framework for clean(er) technology transfer to developing countries.


Two case-studies

The two brief case-studies on cleaner technologies, presented below, follow the concepts laid out on pages 326-327 above regarding the crucial elements of endogenous capacity-building.

Cubatˇo: From industrial cesspool to survival

Summary and conclusions of the case (Zulauf, 1991)

Cubatˇo lies in a coastal plain near the large conurbation of SŃc Paulo, Brazil. The industries located in Cubatˇo can be divided into three complexes, namely petrochemical (one oil refinery for over 150,000 barrels a day and 16 petrochemical plants, plus a paper mill and two concrete plants), steel (one fully integrated steel mill with 4 million tons capacity), and fertilizers (seven plants, plus a cement plant). The latter two complexes are located next to each other.

The installation of this massive industrial agglomeration, from the 1950s to the 1970s, was free from any environmental impact assessment or permit requirements. As a result, at a later stage, there were 320 pollution sources identified, 230 for air, 44 for water, and 46 for soil, all producing intense environmental degradation.

The main air pollutants were particulate matter, fluorides, ammonia, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides and others (chlorine, carbon dioxide, carbon moNoxide, benzene, etc. ). The main environmental parameters monitored in water were pH, dissolved oxygen, biochemical oxygen demand, total nitrogen, ammonia nitrogen, total phosphorus, mercury, phenol, and faecal coliform.

The pollution-control programme implemented since 1984 has reduced particulate emissions by 72 per cent, short of the 92 per cent target as a result of the inaction of the steel complex. Fluoride emissions have been cut by 92 per cent, ammonia by 98 per cent, hydrocarbons by 88 per cent, nitrogen oxides by 97 per cent, and sulphur oxides by 37 per cent.

Water pollutants have also been considerably reduced: organic load by 93 per cent, heavy metals by 97 per cent, fluorides by 92 per cent, phenols by 79 per cent, and settleable wastes by 90 per cent.

Solid wastes have been recycled, treated for storage, and disposed of properly on land.

Overall, it appears that the investment made in cleaner technologies paid off handsomely. The steel complex, however, did not invest adequately in cleaner technology owing to depressed prices for steel products and lack of profitability.

Despite all of these impressive relative reductions in pollution, the original level was so high that the current emissions still remain terribly high in absolute terms and further compound the environmental deterioration of four decades. For instance, the current load of particulates is still 32,000 tons per year, hydrocarbons 4,000, sulphur oxides 18,100, nitrogen oxides 1,700, ammonia 75, and fluorides 73. Regarding water pollution, the remaining load is 1,600 tons per year, of which heavy metals make up 44, fluorides 103, phenols 5.5, and settleable wastes 22 tons per year. The steel complex still dumps 860,000 tons per year of solid wastes on land.

This case, however, illustrates the importance of the stakeholders' dialogue in promoting "end-of-pipe" technology transfer. It also points out, in the case of the steel complex, the difficulties involved in bringing state-owned, loss-making enterprises in line with the overall consensus achieved.

Policy climate

Earlier attempts to redress the situation in Cubatˇo met with failure. Before 1980 local industries and government launched an advertising campaign called "Valley of Life" to change the image of Cubatˇo without seriously addressing the environmental issues. By 1980 the federal government had set up an interministerial committee. This generated technical assessments, but failed to engage the support of the relevant local stakeholders, as its work was opaque to the interested parties. On the basis of these experiences, a new state government decided, in 1983, to operate in a more transparent way, engaging the main stakeholders, including the press, in the decision-making process.

Portfolios of initiatives in cleaner technologies

The State Environmental Agency, CETESB, engaged the local industries in discussions about the choice of technologies and timetables for implementing them, in accordance with priorities agreed upon in advance. For instance, the abatement of emissions of fluorides, particulate matter, and ammonia was the top priority in the air-pollution field. After rounds of dialogues among the key stakeholders, the programme was agreed upon and implementation began in July 1984, with the endorsement of industry leaders, politicians, and other stakeholders such as environmental, religious, community, and union organizations.

Every three months an open meeting - in the presence of all interested stakeholders - was held to monitor progress in the implementation of the programme; there the participating parties were held accountable for delays and occasionally fined. The press published the results of these meetings, thus stimulating the good performers and pointing out those who did not meet their commitments.

Domestic and international partnerships

The equity in industries in Cubatˇo is in the hands of private parties, Brazilian and foreign, and the state (federal and state). Those firms with transnational equity had access to their parent companies in implementing the programme. Brazilian firms, private and state-owned, obtained technologies from local and foreign sources. CETESB conducted studies and surveys in the Cubatˇo area and expanded the environmental monitoring infrastructure. In the course of this, CETESB worked in partnership with some 35 other state and private organizations involved with technology, sanitation, water, and power.

The World Bank provided financing for the pollution-control programme (PROCOP), which was refinanced by local banks and managed, from the technical point of view, by CETESB. During 19841990 fines amounting to US$1 million penalized the non-performers and provided an additional income to the state.

Educational activities

Two important measures of the programme were a local environmental education project and community participation, engaging the key stakeholders. Information on the environment was shared with the Cubatˇo stakeholders to allow them to engage in the dialogue that had been established in order to generate concrete proposals and to achieve consensus on directions to pursue. There were 13 community associations, 5 religious groups, and 10 unions involved in the process. Leaflets in support of environmental education were issued, covering the various facets of the Cubatˇo problem. Meetings, seminars, and conferences took place to disseminate further information and to engage the stakeholders. There was, however, no particular effort to engage women in the process.

Borregaard/Riocell: Environmentally sound pulping

Summary and conclusions of the case (Slongo,1991)

Brazil is currently the eighth largest pulp producer in the world. Borregaard, of Norway, conceived, in the late 1960s, a scheme to integrate short-fibre pulping operations in southern Brazil with bleaching and global marketing in Norway. The project, in fact, gave Borregaard access to cheap fibre stock and shifted the pollution caused by pulping from Norway to Brazil. The return freight load of the ship that brought the unbleached pulp to Norway consisted of the chemicals required for the pulping and other processes in Brazil.

Borregaard had total control over the sales of the 190,000 metric tons per year pulp scheme, because unbleached short-fibre pulp has no international market. Nevertheless, as the project was implemented, the Brazilian National Social and Economic Development Bank became the major shareholder, although the operational control remained with Borregaard. Total investment at the time of startup, in March 1972, reached US$76 million. The plant employed 2,500 people. Sales were planned at US$22 million per year.

The environment was certainly not among the key criteria in the conception and location of the project. In fact, the lack of public concern over the pollution caused by much smaller plants, located near the pulp plant, was used, by the project promoters, as a licence to pollute even further. Straight economic feasibility was the yardstick for the assessment of the project. As plant operations began, its aggressivesmelling atmospheric emissions were regularly brought, by the prevailing winds, to the state capital of Porto Alegre and other nine neighbouring cities, with a total population of over 1.6 million inhabitants. The local newspapers started a press campaign that helped mobilize the population; and the plant was shut down in December 1973 for four months. At that time, the concentration of sulphur oxides in the atmosphere reached 1,800 parts per million (ppm), against the maximum limit set by the World Health Organization of 70 ppm!

In response to this challenge, cleaner technologies were gradually introduced over a period of 10 years. Meanwhile, the equity control changed from the bank to a private pension fund, and finally, in 1975, to a consortium of three Brazilian private companies. The name of the company was then changed to Riocell, to reflect the new ownership. More recently, after the bleaching plant started up, the company also changed its market strategy to move away from the commodity pulp market into the higher value-added customized pulp market, with substantial investment in automation.

In 1989 Riocell's annual sales reached US$223 million, with an average employment of 2,500 people. The output totalled some 310,000 tons per year (up from the design capacity of 190,000) and consisted of 260,000 tons of bleached pulp, 20,000 tons of soluble pulp for viscose making, 15,000 tons for paper and cardboard, and 15,000 tons of unbleached brown pulp.

Policy climate

Public clamour, fuelled by a press campaign, led to a change in the local policy climate that favoured the market penetration of cleaner technologies. This happened at a time when the press in Brazil was strictly censored on political grounds. But apparently the impact of the plant's pollution affected most parties equally. The change in ownership of the firm also brought the local concerns with regard to the environment and marketing closer to the decision-making of the company.

This case illustrates the importance of public opinion in bringing about change, even in a situation of limited freedom of expression. It also demonstrates that concentration of efforts towards endogenous capacitybuilding is a key to the ability to absorb and develop technologies for both endof-pipe and process change approaches.

Portfolios of initiatives in cleaner technologies

Successively cleaner production technologies were introduced to respond to the pollution problem. First, air oxidation was applied to the strong black liquor, to reduce sulphur emissions. Next, cheap sodium sulphate was replaced by the more expensive sodium hydroxide pulping. In 1975, a gas and condensate output treatment was introduced, which reduced by 90 per cent the biochemical oxygen demand of the liquid effluent. In 1979, a residual recovery system was implemented to prevent pollution at the source. In 1983, after a US$240 million investment (with 15 per cent for environmental protection alone), a fully-fledged bleaching plant began operation. In further response to external pressure, and in line with its newly found environmental zeal, Riocell invested US$19 million in a complete (all the way to tertiary treatment) effluent-treatment station. Over the years the firm spent some US$42 million for environmental protection activities.

The attitude of the firm towards the main stakeholders affected by its operations changed, over time, from neglect to respect. The additional investment required to redress the environmental impacts caused by its operations led the firm to seek a higher value-added strategy for its output in order to be able to stay competitive as well as environmentally sounder.

Domestic and international partnerships

As the firm evolved, from wholly owned subsidiary of a foreign concern to a Brazilian-owned private company, its attitude changed from one of total dependence on foreign knowledge to one that was enthusiastic about building endogenous capacity. A centrepiece of this strategy was the establishment of a technology centre.

The process started by the end of 1973, when the staff designed a plant for air oxidation of the strong black liquor. This plant converts the sodium sulphide into non-volatile sodium thiosulphide, thus reducing the emissions of sulphur into the atmosphere. The next step took place in March 1974, with the replacement of sodium sulphate by sodium hydroxide in pulping, which drastically reduced the emissions of sulphur.

In 1975, a Swedish company was engaged to design a gas and condensed output treatment unit. This was followed in 1979 by the implementation of a residual recovery system. Competence was being built and a critical mass of human resources and knowledge was accumulating in the firm during this period. Later, this pool of competence became the basis for developing pulp and paper technology throughout Brazil.

The company also learned how to interact with the relevant stakeholders and find consensus on directions for the future. The firm's management gradually developed an environmentally responsible posture, based on the adoption of cleaner technologies and a growing technological decision-making capacity derived from its investment in research and development. Riocell appears to have found that investment in environmental control can lead to greater efficiency and positive economic returns.

Educational activities

In this case, there has been no special effort to provide basic education on the interaction between economy, environment, and technology change. The press, however, played an important role in raising the awareness of the relevant stakeholders on environmental matters, even at a time when there were limitations on freedom of expression in the country.


References

Ayres, R. U. 1989. "Industrial Metabolism." In: J. H. Ausubel and H. E. Sladovich, eds., Technology and Environment. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1989, p. 23.

Berle, G. 1991. The Green Entrepreneur. New York: Liberty Hall Press.

De Larderel, J. A. 1991. "Cleaner Production: A Worldwide Goal." Background document to the 11th session of the United Nations Intergovernmental Committee on Science and Technology for Development. New York, p. 77. (Manuscript.)

Ekins, P. 1992. Sustainable Development North/South - Contradictions and Hard Choices. Paper presented at the Malente Symposium lX: The Economic Revolution: Challenge and Opportunity for the 21st Century. LŘbeck: Draeger Foundation.

Enos, J. L. 1991. The Creation of Technological Capability in Developing Countries. London: Pinter.

Slongo, L. 1991. "Environmental Issues and Riocell's Technological Strategy." In: J. Markovitch et al., Brazilian Experiences on Management of Environmental Issues: Some Findings on the Transfer of Technologies. Research Paper no. 1. Geneva: UNCED Secretariat, pp. 6-19.

Trindade, S. C. 1980. "Technology Development in Developing Countries: The Case of a Private R&D Institution in Brazil." R&D Management 10, no. 2: 77-82.

- 1991. "Environpeace." Chem Tech 21, no. 12: 710-711.

UNCED. 1991a. "Capacity Building for Sustainable Development. Preliminary Draft." Geneva: UNCED Secretariat.

UNCED. 1991b. "Transfer of Environmentally Sound Technology, Draft Options for Agenda 21." Geneva: UNCED Secretariat.

United Nations. 1989. End-of-Decade Review of the Implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action. Report of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. New York. (A/CN. 11/89.)

Zulauf, W. E. 1991. "Industrial Pollution Control in Cubatˇo." In: J. Markovitch et al., Brazilian Experiences on Management of Environmental Issues: Some Findings on the Transfer of Technologies. Research Paper no. 1. Geneva: UNCED Secretariat, pp. 46-78.


Bibliography

Heaton, G., R. Repetto, and R. Sobin. Transforming Technology: An Agenda for Environmentally Sustainable Growth in the 21st Century. Washington, D.C.: World Resources Institute, 1991.

OECD. Managing Technological Change in the Less Advanced Developing Countries. Paris: OECD, 1991.

United Nations Advisory Committee on Science and Technology for Development. Report. New York, 1991. (A/CN.11/91.)

United Nations Workshop on Creative Financing for Environmentally Sound Technologies. Workshop report. New York: UN Centre for Science and Technology for Development, 1990.


14. A plethora of paradigms: Outlining an information system on physical exchanges between the economy and nature


Marina Fischer-Kowalski, Helmut Haberl, and Harald Payer


Introduction

The notion of industrial metabolism draws attention to a materialistic view of the economy as a physical system, driven by energy flows. Such a conception is less trivial than it seems, since money functions as a unifying principle of economy to such an extent that it is difficult to raise awareness and understanding of physical (non-monetary) concepts. The physical dimensions of the economy usually are discussed only as tools for the development of monetarization, not as autonomous concepts. Similarly, the social sciences, as well as economics, tend to view social reproduction as a system of communication, and not in physical terms.

If you conceive of the economy as a physical system, drawing physical inputs from its natural environment, processing them internally, and generating physical outputs to this environment, you have to define a boundary between the "system" and its "natural environment": you have to be able to tell what is "inside" and what is "outside." This boundary is both omnipresent and fugitive. It certainly cannot be a "physical" or topographical boundary: The same physical elements will be both part of the economic system and part of its natural environment, depending on the point of view. One can only construct a functional boundary, and this has to be done with care. Two approaches may be chosen.

First, an a priori theoretical approach would discuss the possible functional labels of physical entities and processes that should define them as inside or outside the system. This might be their function as goods and services in markets (a narrow approach that would leave aside the so-called "free goods," and could not easily be applied to elements of subsistence economies); it might be their function for "humans" in terms of a biological species (which would be a very broad approach, difficult to connect to a specific concept of economy). We feel the most promising approach would be the functional link to property: property is specifically human and it constitutes a functional connection between physical entities and economic "subjects." But we will not pursue this question here, though we would like to encourage such a discussion. As long as this question is not resolved satisfactorily on a theoretical level, we prefer to speak of the "socio-economic system" rather than of "industrial economy." Sometimes we also use the term "economy," implying a wider historical range of modes of production.

Another, second, approach is a strictly constructivist one. It presumes that society "constructs" the boundary of its natural environment by the environmental information system it uses. The environmental information system itself defines what is to be considered part of the system and what is to be considered as an element of its (relevant) "natural environment." Practically speaking, this is the approach we chose in this paper; it leads to an implicit definition of the boundary between the socio-economic system and its natural environment.

This leaves us with the need for a mode of selection of physical processes that are relevant within an environmental information system that is supposed to describe socio-economic metabolism. This mode of selection should be selfreferential to the socio-economic system, in the sense that it selects, for the possible present or future, harm that feedbacks from the natural environment to the system may cause. In view of our limited knowledge of interdependencies, it should also take into account the self-regulating qualities of natural systems for their own sake.

The second section of this chapter, therefore, attempts to outline what we think are the basic paradigms for conceiving of such interdependencies. The third section is devoted to the overall structure of an information system that might qualify for the standards set. We have proposed this information system to the Austrian government, with some chances of success. In the last two sections we provide empirical illustrations of how the Austrian economy would perform within such an information system.


Distinguishing between "harmful" and "harmless" characteristics of socio-economic metabolism with its natural environment

There exists a variety of conceptions to distinguish between what is good (or at least harmless) and what is bad (harmful) for the environment. These conceptions vary according to scientific discipline and according to political (or ethical) understanding of man-nature relationships.

This variety of conceptions can be ordered into four basic paradigms:

- Poison paradigm.
- Natural balance paradigm. Entropy paradigm.
- Conviviality paradigm.

Each of them is guided by a specific reference concept, and each of them is able to catch important aspects of the possible meaning of the "damage" society causes to its natural environment. The paradigms are not mutually exclusive in the sense that one specific aspect of environmental damage might not occur in more than one of them. But they cannot be reduced upon one another, nor can they be merged into one single "grand paradigm." Each has its own specific structure of reasoning, its own scientific and political tradition, and its own audience. But all four paradigms taken together permit a complete scanning of what might be meant when people talk about the socioeconomic system "causing environmental damage" (fig. 1).

Let us illustrate the functioning of the four paradigms for a special case: the damage caused by car traffic.

1. In the poison paradigm, the main argument would be: Car traffic causes about 60 per cent of the toxic gaseous emissions to the atmosphere (CO, NOX, CXHy). Thus limiting volumes for the exhaust should be issued. Catalytic converters are a good solution, since they reduce toxic emissions by 80 per cent or more.

2. In the natural balance paradigm, it would be said that car traffic contributes about 15 per cent to the destabilization of the earth's climate, and also severely affects several ecosystems. Catalytic converters would not do, since they cannot reduce CO2, but maybe electric or solar cars could.

3. In the entropy paradigm, it would be argued that car traffic requires about 50 per cent of the end-consumption of liquid fossil fuels. Thus we need a technological innovation towards solar cars, for example, while catalytic converters are relatively irrelevant or even counterproductive, since they require platinum, a very rare resource.

4. In the conviviality paradigm, attention would be drawn to car traffic as a major cause of unintentional and useless animal killing (insects, birds, rodents, amphibious animals, etc.). One would also draw attention to the road system reducing the living space of many species to areas too small for a decent life and exposing them to all kinds of disturbances. Solar cars wouldn't help.

Fig. 1 "Environmental damage" caused by the socio-economic system: four basic paradigms

We think that an information system on the environmental impacts of the socio-economic system should refer to all these four paradigms and should present evidence concerning the central set of variables in each of them. It should not deprive any one line of reasoning of its possible empirical basis, or favour one over the other. Political discussion and the political decision-making process would then have to weigh arguments and to solve existing contradictions.

This recommendation can also be supported by considering the epistemological qualities of the four paradigms (fig. 2). Regarding the horizontal dimension, the poison paradigm and the entropy paradigm are more closely related to established ways of analytical thinking in chemical and physical dimensions, whereas the natural balance paradigm and the conviviality paradigm present holistic views referring to living systems. These two are more difficult to relate to analytical systems such as (economic) national accounting - but holistic approaches may be the way of the future. The vertical dimension, specific v. general, and at the same time risk-oriented v. well-beingoriented, also has implications for the possible acceptability of the paradigms. For the time being it is easier to argue for political measures against specific risks than for ones in favour of long-term wellbeing. But this (we hope) may change within the next few decades, and an information system that is being created now should be open to such changes.

Fig. 2 Epistemological qualities of the four paradigms


Outline of an information system for the metabolism of the socio-economic system with its natural environment

Let's come back to the notion of "metabolism." In biology, this term is commonly used to describe the internal biochemical pathways of organic and anorganic inputs and their conversion to organic/ anorganic outputs which are necessary for an organism to grow, live, and produce its offspring. Functionally, a specific metabolism is all an organism needs to survive.

Strictly speaking, the socio-economic system is not an organism: it is not as highly integrated internally, nor can it die, because it does not "live" in a biological sense. It is a system on a different hierarchical level for which it is difficult to find a suitable biological analogy. For systems of greater complexity (such as ecosystems) the exchange processes with their environment have to be conceptualized on a more complex level than input/output-fogies will allow. To describe the metabolism of a system it is sufficient to conceptualize its "environment" as a large pool providing nutrients and sinks. For a proper description of the socio-economic system's interactions with its natural environment it is indispensable, we think, to conceive the natural environment as an array of various systems in which interventions take place. These interventions aim at colonizing the environment. This is equivalent to purposive restructuring of certain system characteristics of the environment, so it would serve specific socio-economic uses. We will elaborate on this idea below.

So the information system we propose stretches the concept of metabolism by considering not just inputs from and outputs to the natural environment, but also interventions in various natural systems.

Fig. 3 The relationship between the proposed sets of indicators and reference paradigms of environmental damage caused by the socio-economic system

Figure 3 gives an overview of the information system that we propose in relation to the four paradigms described above. There are three modules of indicators that differ in their theoretical reference, in their (natural sciences) background, and in their databases. Methodologically, though, they have common features: they are all expressed as physical flows over the (systemic) border between the economy and its natural environment per time period (a year); they are all formulated on a level of abstraction that (in principle) allows all economic actors to produce such flows; and they are all attributable to specific economic actors (branches of activities, including private households) on an institutional, not a functional basis.

So, what distinguishes the information modules? What is their content? And how do they relate to the concept of metabolism?

Module 1, emissions (EMIs), is the most obvious in this context. It specifies indicators for gaseous, liquid, and solid emissions (each with a number of subindicators agreed upon in a series of expert workshops) per economic branch of activity, and expressed in tons per year. For gaseous emissions we suggest two effect parameters, namely "climateaffecting emissions" (where several different substances are recalculated on a CO2 basis according to international standards), and "ozone-layer-affecting emissions" (again a recalculation of various gases in F21-equivalents). Similarly, for liquid emissions we suggest an effect parameter for "eutrophication" (in total P) and for "deoxidation" (in BOD5), and another for toxicity.

Whereas it was possible to find acceptance among experts for a fairly comprehensive list of indicators selected for importance, ubiquity, and methodological feasibility, the empirical basis for calculation is extremely weak. So we do not give any empirical example in this chapter, but we suggest further research on technological emission factors for future calculations. With regard to solid emissions, even the conceptual basis for specifying anything but sheer amounts (in tons per year) is highly unsatisfying.

With reference to the metabolism concept, EMIs represent only a rather simple feature, namely the outputs of the system into its environment, selected for possible Noxious quality.

Module 2, economic-ecological system indicators (ESIs), gives information about the physical dimensions of the economy in terms of matter, energy, and time/space. This rests upon the assumption that, ceteris paribus, the economy will have the less impact upon its environment the smaller the physical quantities handled by the system are. Several aspects can be expressed by this module. One aspect is the "size" of the economy relative to its natural environment. Another aspect is the ecological "wastefulness" of the economy: the more energy, matter, and movement (space/time) is processed for a given degree of need-satisfaction, the more ecologically wasteful the system is. Yet another aspect is the relative "closedness" of the system: how much input from the environment does it need and how much output does it produce in relation to the amounts circulated within the system?

The indicators in this module are expressed in physical amounts. (For example, how many tons of materials are handled per year, imported from and exported to the environment? How much energy in terms of joules per year is consumed resp. downgraded? How many tonne-kilometres are being transported per year?) These amounts are very meaningful in absolute terms, be it for comparisons over time or between branches of economic activity. In a second step they can also be related to the monetary side of the economy and expressed as "intensities," e.g. net energy used per unit of gross domestic product. This draws attention to the relative independence of the physical and the monetary size of the economy: an economy may very well shrink in physical terms (which should be environmentally beneficial) and at the same time grow in monetary terms (which would be environmentally rather neutral).

What these indicators have in common is that they are fairly close to standard economic statistics, in the sense that they represent their physical dimensions. They also have in common a number of (sometimes overlapping) environmental implications. (We will come back to this for the case of materials and material intensity bellow.)

ESIs have a close relationship to the concept of metabolism: on a very general level they allow, in combination with economic input-output analysis, the screening of the whole transformation process that this term implies.

Module 3, purposive interventions into life processes (PILs), is the most unconventional of the modules. It is distinguished from emissions in that it seeks to operationalize purposeful actions. Emissions may be regarded as unintended side-effects of economic production and consumption, whereas here we aim at interventions in favour of a particular social use. Roads, for example, purposefully eradicate vegetation and animal life in a particular area in order to remove barriers to human mobility. Agriculture purposively uses pesticides to prevent other species from eating the crops. Pesticides are not an "emission" (or not unless they, as a side-effect, get into rivers), but are applied for a specific economic purpose.

PILs, in common with EMIs, do not portray the metabolism within the economy but the flows over its boundaries to the environment. Other than with EMIs these flows cannot be properly identified as either "intakes" or "outputs," but have to be described (on a different functional level) as interventions in environmental systems. An example is given below.

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