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Dematerialization Through Services: Evaluating the Evidence

Blair Fix ()
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Blair Fix: York University

Biophysical Economics and Resource Quality, 2019, vol. 4, issue 2, 1-17

Abstract: Abstract Dematerialization through services is a popular proposal for reducing environmental impact. The idea is that by shifting from the production of goods to the provision of services, a society can reduce its material demands. But do societies with a larger service sector actually dematerialize? I test the ‘dematerialization through services’ hypothesis with a focus on fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions—the primary drivers of climate change. I find no evidence that a service transition leads to carbon dematerialization. Instead, a larger service sector is associated with greater use of fossil fuels and greater carbon emissions per person. This suggests that ‘dematerialization through services’ is not a valid sustainability policy.

Keywords: Dematerialization; Service transition; Carbon emissions; Energy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1007/s41247-019-0054-y

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