Innovations and the Environment provides strong evidence that companies can reduce emissions at socially acceptable costs. The author, Yoram Krozer, General Director of the Cartesius Institute (the Dutch technical universities' Institute for Sustainable Innovations), shows that the technology exists to attain a far-reaching, emissions-reduction percentage--as much as 70 to 95 percent--if that is what is demanded by policy-makers and market interests.
Using statistical data on acidifying emissions to air and discharges of biodegradable matter to water from refineries, chemical industries, basic metal industries and electric power plants, Krozer highlights that emissions decrease as efficiency increases. In three to ten years, pollution is reduced by 65 to 85 percent and the costs per unit emission have been cut in half.
This change is possible by adapting available technologies, due to companies' increasing experience in the use of such technologies. Environmental innovations provide substantial cost reductions and can contribute to corporate results through energy-saving, decreased material use and better product quality. However, companies must invest in the innovations before the enforcement of environmental policy. This anticipation strategy is risky because it remains uncertain whether strict policy demands will be implemented and whether or not the companies have the capabilities to innovate.
Innovations can be invoked by strict environmental demands. A short lead-time in policy preparation and rapid enforcement are needed because uncertainties about demands and laborious enforcement are deadly for innovations' profitability. Innovations can also be promoted through negotiations among stakeholders if harmed interests obtain legal instruments to assure that their demands be enforced.
The European Union's present environmental policy discourages innovations because it promotes available technologies that have bee
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