Urban Economies Resource Productivity and Decoupling: Metabolism Trends of 1996--2011 in Sweden, Stockholm, and Gothenburg
Resource productivity and evidence of economic decoupling were investigated on the basis of the time series in 1996-2011 of material flow analysis for Sweden, Stockholm, and Gothenburg. In the three cases, absolute reductions in CO2 emissions by about 20% were observed, energy consumption per capita decreased, while gross domestic product (GDP) per capita grew. The energy consumption of the residential and public sectors decreased drastically, while the transport energy consumption is still growing steadily. Decoupling of the economy as a whole (i.e., including materials) is not yet happening at any scale. The domestic material consumption (DMC) continues to increase, in parallel with the GDP. The rate of increase for DMC is slower than that for GDP in both Stockholm and Sweden as a whole (i.e., relative decoupling). The metabolism of the cities does not replicate the national metabolism, and the two cities each have their own distinct metabolism profiles. As a consequence, policy implications for each of the case studies were suggested. In general, because of the necessarily different roles of the two cities in the national economy, generic resource productivity benchmarks, such as CO2 per capita, should be avoided in favor of sectorial benchmarks, such as industry, transport, or residential CO2 per capita. In addition, the share of the city impacts caused by the provision of a service for the rest of the country, such as a port, could be allocated to the national economy.