SOC&ENV - FACING SOCIETAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGES

Evolution of consumption patterns, economic convergence and carbon footprint of development - A comparison Brazil - France – ECOPA

Evolution of consumption patterns, economic convergence and carbon footprint of development. A comparison Brazil - France

ECOPA aims at examining how flexible the link between income per capita and consumption patterns is; and at drawing implications of these findings for future emissions scenarios.

Examining the link between income per capita and consumption patterns

Transitions to “low-carbon” development paths (i.e., to development paths with limited greenhouse gases emissions) are unlikely to be achievable solely via technological solutions: behavior, notably consumption patterns, will also have to evolve. However, an assumption implicit in most GHG emissions scenarios is that as income per capita converge across countries, households consumption patterns will converge as well, leading to potentially very high demand for energy, very high demand for natural resources and very high emissions. So ECOPA precisely aims at examining how flexible the link between income per capita and consumption patterns is; and at drawing implications of these findings for future emissions scenarios.

ECOPA maps and compares consumption patterns, and their evolution, in France, an “old” industrialized economy, and Brazil, a rapidly emerging economy. In both countries, a combination of econometric analysis of consumption data, household surveys and in-depth studies of representative goods and services is used to (i) map consumption patterns across income groups, and (ii) explore the determinants of their changes over time. Strong emphasis is put on obtaining consistent monetary and physical flows. This is necessary to analyze the energy and emissions implications of consumption patterns, but this constitutes a significant theoretical and empirical stumbling block. Finally, on the basis of the retrospective analysis, scenarios of how household consumption patterns in the two countries might evolve are built and their implications for energy and GHG emissions are computed.

The project will try to i) capture the magnitude of the impacts of the main drivers of consumption patterns and of their combination in consistent prospective scenarios; ii) show the leeway for decoupling the ‘economic catch-up’ and the convergence in per capita incomes between Brazil, France and the US from the consumption patterns evolution; iii) detect the mechanisms and timing of bifurcations towards development patterns embedding alternative energy contents and environmental footprints. A set of scenarios will be produced. Different scenarios on income / consumption relationships will be tested using the IMACLIM model (CIRED), and policy implications will be drawn.

ECOPA is intended to be a first step into a broader program on the analysis of consumption and its implications for natural resources and greenhouse gases emissions. The ECOPA team will strive to disseminate partial results (working papers, notably) and selectively invite outside researchers to the project meetings, so as to progressively build a network of interested parties.

The objective is to make harmonized monetary / physical data on consumption, in France and Brazil, publicly available online from the project website (hosted by CIRED). Methodological innovations related to any of project outputs will be published in scientific outlets, using the format most relevant to each discipline (peer-reviewed articles for economics, possibly book format for anthropology).

Transitions to “low-carbon” development paths (i.e., to development paths with limited greenhouse gases emissions) are unlikely to be achievable solely via technological solutions: behavior, notably consumption patterns, will also have to evolve. However, an assumption implicit in most GHG emissions scenarios is that as income per capita converge across countries, households consumption patterns will converge as well, leading to potentially very high demand for energy, very high demand for natural resources and very high emissions. ECOPA precisely aims at examining how flexible the link between income per capita and consumption patterns is; and at drawing implications of these findings for future emissions scenarios. To do so, ECOPA maps and compares consumption patterns, and their evolution, in France, an “old” industrialized economy, and Brazil, a rapidly emerging economy. In both countries, a combination of econometric analysis of consumption data, household surveys and in-depth studies of representative goods and services is used to (i) map consumption patterns across income groups, and (ii) explore the determinants of their changes over time. Strong emphasis is put on obtaining consistent monetary and physical flows. This is necessary to analyze the energy and emissions implications of consumption patterns, but this constitutes a significant theoretical and empirical stumbling block. Finally, on the basis of the retrospective analysis, scenarios of how household consumption patterns in the two countries might evolve are built and their implications for energy and GHG emissions are computed.

Project coordinator

Monsieur Franck LECOCQ (Centre International de Recherche sur l'Environnement et le Développement) – lecocq@centre-cired.fr

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

CENBIO Universidade de Sao Paulo -IEE/CENBIO
EDF R&D EDF - Département recherche et Développement
TEC Tourisme Transports Territoires Environnement Conseil
CERLIS Centre de Recherche sur les Liens Sociaux - Université Paris Descartes
CIRED Centre International de Recherche sur l'Environnement et le Développement

Help of the ANR 317,430 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2012 - 42 Months

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