The article gives an analysis of the possibilities and limits of the concept of ecological modernization.
The concept was used already in the early 1980s to describe the common field of ecology
and economy. The focus was on technological progress reducing the environmental impact of
production and consumption. Hajer and other authors had a broader definition of the concept.
But it could make sense to differentiate technical / non-technical solutions (the latter being less
compatible with the economic system). The limits to eco-modernization strategies and the need
for “structural” solutions could possibly better be demonstrated by the earlier concept. A policy
for ecological modernization may be defined as the sum of government actions aimed to stimulate
environmental innovations and their diffusion. Higher eco-efficiency - instead of end-of-pipe
measures - is its main objective. But innovation is a highly difficult task, especially for governments.
No simple “instrumentalistic” solution is available. Therefore, a more complex policy
pattern will be necessary. A more global policy approach would be the stimulation of “green”
lead markets. As a rule a complex interplay between political and technical innovation and diffusion
can be observed.
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