Ecologic Institute

Grunewald, Germany

Ecologic Institute

Grunewald, Germany
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Benson D.,University of Exeter | Gain A.K.,German Research Center for Geosciences | Rouillard J.J.,Ecologic Institute
Water Alternatives | Year: 2015

Nexus thinking, in the form of integrating water security with agriculture, energy and climate concerns, is normatively argued to help better transition societies towards greener economies and the wider goal of sustainable development. Yet several issues emerge from the current debate surrounding this concept, namely the extent to which such conceptualisations are genuinely novel, whether they complement (or are replacing) existing environmental governance approaches and how - if deemed normatively desirable - the nexus can be enhanced in national contexts. This paper therefore reviews the burgeoning nexus literature to determine some common indicative criteria before examining its implementation in practice vis-à-vis more established integrated water resources management (IWRM) models. Evidence from two divergent national contexts, the UK and Bangladesh, suggests that the nexus has not usurped IWRM, while integration between water, energy, climate and agricultural policy objectives is generally limited. Scope for greater merging of nexus thinking within IWRM is then discussed.

Galli A.,Global Footprint Network | Wiedmann T.,CSIRO | Ercin E.,University of Twente | Knoblauch D.,Ecologic Institute | And 2 more authors.
Ecological Indicators | Year: 2012

In recent years, attempts have been made to develop an integrated Footprint approach for the assessment of the environmental impacts of production and consumption. In this paper, we provide for the first time a definition of the "Footprint Family" as a suite of indicators to track human pressure on the planet and under different angles. This work has been developed under the 7th Framework Programme in the European Commission (EC) funded One Planet Economy Network: Europe (OPEN:EU) project. It builds on the premise that no single indicator per se is able to comprehensively monitor human impact on the environment, but indicators rather need to be used and interpreted jointly. A description of the research question, rationale and methodology of the Ecological, Carbon and Water Footprint is first provided. Similarities and differences among the three indicators are then highlighted to show how these indicators overlap, interact, and complement each other. The paper concludes by defining the "Footprint Family" of indicators and outlining its appropriate policy use for the European Union (EU). We believe this paper can be of high interest for both policy makers and researchers in the field of ecological indicators, as it brings clarity on most of the misconceptions and misunderstanding around Footprint indicators, their accounting frameworks, messages, and range of application. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Caldwell N.,Stanford University | Srebotnjak T.,Ecologic Institute | Wang T.,University of Minnesota | Hsia R.,University of California at San Francisco
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Objectives: We examined the charges, their variability, and respective payer group for diagnosis and treatment of the ten most common outpatient conditions presenting to the Emergency department (ED). Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of the 2006-2008 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Analysis was limited to outpatient visits with non-elderly, adult (years 18-64) patients with a single discharge diagnosis. Results: We studied 8,303 ED encounters, representing 76.6 million visits. Median charges ranged from $740 (95% CI $651-$817) for an upper respiratory infection to $3437 (95% CI $2917-$3877) for a kidney stone. The median charge for all ten outpatient conditions in the ED was $1233 (95% CI $1199- $1268), with a high degree of charge variability. All diagnoses had an interquartile range (IQR) greater than $800 with 60% of IQRs greater than $1550. Conclusion: Emergency department charges for common conditions are expensive with high charge variability. Greater acute care charge transparency will at least allow patients and providers to be aware of the emergency department charges patients may face in the current health care system.

Liu C.,Harvard University | Srebotnjak T.,Ecologic Institute | Hsia R.Y.,University of California at San Francisco
Health Affairs | Year: 2014

Between 1996 and 2009 the annual number of emergency department (ED) visits in the United States increased by 51 percent while the number of EDs nationwide decreased by 6 percent, which placed unprecedented strain on the nation's EDs. To investigate the effects of an ED's closing on surrounding communities, we identified all ED closures in California during the period 1999-2010 and examined their association with inpatient mortality rates at nearby hospitals. We found that one-quarter of hospital admissions in this period occurred near an ED closure and that these admissions had 5 percent higher odds of inpatient mortality than admissions not occurring near a closure. This association persisted whether we considered ED closures as affecting all future nearby admissions or only those occurring in the subsequent two years. These results suggest that ED closures have ripple effects on patient outcomes that should be considered when health systems and policy makers decide how to regulate ED closures.© 2014 by Project HOPE - The People-to-People Health Foundation.

Plieninger T.,Berlin Brandenburg Academy of science and Humanities | Plieninger T.,Humboldt University of Berlin | Schleyer C.,Berlin Brandenburg Academy of science and Humanities | Schaich H.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg | And 4 more authors.
Conservation Letters | Year: 2012

Agroecosystems are vital for supplying ecosystem services to human society, but most modern farming practices impact detrimentally on the environment. Public agricultural support policies have been critically important in influencing the transformation of the farm sectors; however, few of them have been dedicated to enhancing ecosystem services beyond agricultural commodities. The largest agricultural support system worldwide, the European common agricultural policy (CAP), has now come to a critical point, as major decisions concerning its design and implementation after 2013 are about to be taken. The debate on this reform process presents a unique opportunity to trigger a transition from commodity-based subsidy policies to policies centered on efficient provision of ecosystem services from agricultural land. To prompt such discussion, we formulate key recommendations informed by a review of ecosystem services literature and address verifiable links to human well-being, nonmarket valuation for balanced services provision, treatment of ecosystem services bundles, site-specific and regionalized approaches, matching spatial scales for different ecosystem services, funding permanence for payment schemes, strong monitoring and adaptive approaches to tackling uncertainties, and coherent cross-sectoral policy design. If these issues were to be considered in formulating and implementing future CAP, it might become an exemplar for redirecting agricultural policies elsewhere in the world toward sustainability. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Srebotnjak T.,Ecologic Institute | Hardi P.,Central European University
Ecological Indicators | Year: 2011

The renewed interest in biomass-derived energy, which was the main source of heat and power until the industrial revolution and still contributes a significant portion to energy consumption in the developing world, is based on the premises that bioenergy can serve to reduce dependence on foreign energy supplies, boost and reduce the volatility of farmers' incomes, develop a sustainable renewable energy basis, and cut greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Growing urgency to address these problems and the European Union's global leadership role motivate the baseline assessment of the potential for sustainable bioenergy production in the most recent two EU member states (Bulgaria and Romania) and the former Soviet republics in Central Asia and the Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) by reviewing the literature and drawing on available data. The paper integrates the monitoring and assessment of ecological and environmental indicators with management practices, and shows that there is still a lack of knowledge and approaches at this nexus. The main factors to be considered by the countries included in our study are: the type of energy carrier, the transportation and production processes, as well as the long-term environmental impacts associated with intensive biomass production. Specifically, the baseline assessment is using typical indicators to describe bioenergy carriers and their production and consumption in thermal or mass units as well as in percentage shares of total renewable energy produced or consumed. Our findings indicate that the potential for developing sustainable bioenergy production is generally small but with considerable cross-country variation. Only Bulgaria, Romania, and Kazakhstan are endowed with the necessary natural, climatic, and economic conditions to develop sustainable biomass productions and markets. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Emissions trading promises the achievement of a pre-defined environmental outcome at least cost. If the system works and key assumptions hold, it would seem to be an "optimal" climate policy instrument. On closer inspection, however, it is less clear what constitutes an "optimal" climate policy. This paper argues that optimality involves a range of criteria beyond short-term economic efficiency, but also has to consider the longer-term dynamic efficiency, as well as the political, administrative and legal feasibility of policy instruments. The assessment of optimality is confounded by the fact that climate policy relies on a number of policy instruments. This paper argues that a policy analysis should look at the performance of the entire instrument mix, and not analyse individual instruments in isolation. Such a mix will differ from country to country - depending on political preferences, administrative capacities, or regulatory traditions. The mix is also evolving: as climate policy aims to transform entire economies, the impact of individual policy instruments in the climate policy mix grows - measured by the share of the relevant markets that they affect, the incentives they provide, or the costs they impose. As this impact grows, there is increasing interaction between policy instruments. Understanding and managing these interactions therefore becomes key for successful climate policy. Emissions trading has a particular position in this instrument mix: it directly targets the end result, i.e. emissions from the regulated sectors, inputs to the process, technologies used, or the infrastructure, where other instruments target the interim stages in the process. At the same time, emissions trading also builds on other policies, for instance through administrative and regulatory infrastructures. This paper discusses how the other policy instruments affect the functioning of an emissions trading scheme (ETS), and how this will reflect on the performance of an ETS in terms of optimality.

Glenk K.,King's College | Lago M.,Ecologic Institute | Moran D.,King's College
Water Policy | Year: 2011

The EC Water Framework Directive (WFD) sets ambitious quality targets for member state water bodies by 2015. The provisions are being transposed predominantly using a cost-effectiveness criterion, which raises questions about the relative balance of costs [of reaching good status (GS)] and corresponding (non-)market benefits or the economic efficiency of the legislation. This study provides an insight into public perceptions of water quality improvements based on an application of national characterisation data on the state of the water environment in Scotland. A choice experiment approach is used to quantify non-market benefits of achieving GS across Scottish rivers and lochs over varying timescales and different geographical levels, with the aim of revealing willingnessto- pay data that is specifically relevant for WFD implementation. We find that the benefits of implementing the WFD are substantial. Results show that geographical differences in preferences for national improvements in the river and loch water quality in Scotland exist, both in terms of magnitudes of benefit estimates and time preferences for improvements. These differences need to be taken into account in analyses at the river basin district or national level in order to support policy options for the implementation of the WFD across the country. © IWA Publishing 2011.

Srebotnjak T.,Ecologic Institute | Carr G.,Northern Oil and Gas Branch | De Sherbinin A.,Columbia University | Rickwood C.,Natural Resources Canada
Ecological Indicators | Year: 2012

Water is an essential resource for life on Earth and available freshwater resources are emerging as a limiting factor not only in quantity but also in quality for human development and ecological stability in a growing number of locations. Water quality is a significant criterion in matching water demand and supply. Securing adequate freshwater quality for both human and ecological needs is thus an important aspect of integrated environmental management and sustainable development. The 2008 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) published by the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy (YCELP) and the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University includes a Water Quality Index (WATQI). The WATQI provides a first global effort at reporting and estimating water quality on the basis of five commonly reported quality parameters: dissolved oxygen, electrical conductivity, pH value, and total nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations. This paper explains the motivation and methodology of the EPI WATQI and demonstrates how hot-deck imputation of missing values can expand its geographical coverage and better inform decision-makers on the types and extents of water quality problems in the context of limited globally comparable water quality monitoring data. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Dwyer-Lindgren L.,University of Washington | Mokdad A.H.,University of Washington | Srebotnjak T.,Ecologic Institute | Flaxman A.D.,University of Washington | And 2 more authors.
Population Health Metrics | Year: 2014

Background: Cigarette smoking is a leading risk factor for morbidity and premature mortality in the United States, yet information about smoking prevalence and trends is not routinely available below the state level, impeding local-level action.Methods: We used data on 4.7 million adults age 18 and older from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) from 1996 to 2012. We derived cigarette smoking status from self-reported data in the BRFSS and applied validated small area estimation methods to generate estimates of current total cigarette smoking prevalence and current daily cigarette smoking prevalence for 3,127 counties and county equivalents annually from 1996 to 2012. We applied a novel method to correct for bias resulting from the exclusion of the wireless-only population in the BRFSS prior to 2011.Results: Total cigarette smoking prevalence varies dramatically between counties, even within states, ranging from 9.9% to 41.5% for males and from 5.8% to 40.8% for females in 2012. Counties in the South, particularly in Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia, as well as those with large Native American populations, have the highest rates of total cigarette smoking, while counties in Utah and other Western states have the lowest. Overall, total cigarette smoking prevalence declined between 1996 and 2012 with a median decline across counties of 0.9% per year for males and 0.6% per year for females, and rates of decline for males and females in some counties exceeded 3% per year. Statistically significant declines were concentrated in a relatively small number of counties, however, and more counties saw statistically significant declines in male cigarette smoking prevalence (39.8% of counties) than in female cigarette smoking prevalence (16.2%). Rates of decline varied by income level: counties in the top quintile in terms of income experienced noticeably faster declines than those in the bottom quintile.Conclusions: County-level estimates of cigarette smoking prevalence provide a unique opportunity to assess where prevalence remains high and where progress has been slow. These estimates provide the data needed to better develop and implement strategies at a local and at a state level to further reduce the burden imposed by cigarette smoking. © 2014 Dwyer-Lindgren et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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