History shows that modern economies have great difficulty achieving strong dematerialization, which means an absolute reduction in material use in a growing economy. Far more policy-related attention should be paid to more efficient material use in order to reach strong dematerialization and thereby reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There are two reasons for this. First, the use of materials has a significant effect on the emissions of energy-related greenhouse gases, and second, there is considerable potential for a large reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in more efficient material management. More efficient material management can be reached in each individual stage of the material life cycle, by optimizing the total life cycle and by stimulating a shift from consuming products to consuming services.
The two visions on the future energy system both include improved material management as an important tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is justifiable in light of the conclusions of this chapter. However, one should bear in mind that serious policy efforts are needed to reach this desired situation.
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