Published 01 October 2012

Statistics and indicators regarding industrial conversions to green technology

- A suggestion for an environmental technology statistic portfolio

In this report, Growth Analysis provide an account of the Government task to further develop statistics about the Swedish environmental sector. Also included in this task is to manage the statistics that have previously been produced by Swedish Environmental Technology Council, Swentec. These statistics however only cover environmental companies, that form only a small percentage of all companies.

In order to create a better picture of the 'green' structural change, Growth Analysis suggests completed statistics that encompass more areas of structural change; innovation craft within the environmental technology; the commercialisation and implementation of green innovations; the development of green exports and the entire environmental efficiency of trade and industry.  At the same time, ambition exists to meet the demands for statistics regarding the traditional environment sector.

The suggestion is that of an 'environmental technology statistics portfolio' that proposes the content of statistics for:

  • environmental patents
  • greenhouse gas intensity of trade and industry
  • development and export of environmental companies
  • the exports from environmental companies divided up into product groups

Environmental patent data is the most common indicator of innovation. A deficit however, is that the method only captures technology innovations. Comparisons between countries are also problematic, as differences may be as a result of differences in the willingness to award patents etc. Hence the method has a high dependability in such a way that each application for environmental patents is included. The intentions of both OECD and Growth Analysis are that patents are a fair indicator of innovation and economic development.

The consolidation of statistics show that there is a high number of Swedish companies with environmental technology innovations. In terms of applications for environmental patent applications per GNP, Sweden is the fifth leading country in the world, after Luxembourg, Japan, Denmark and Germany. To a certain extent, such patent comparisons reflect the trade and industry of a country. A high number of Swedish and German patents in 2009 fell under the category of 'emissions and fuel efficiency for transport', whilst the majority of patents in Denmark and Spain belonged to the category 'energy production from renewable and non-fossil fuel sources'.

One of the goals of green transition is to increase the environmental efficiency of trade and industry. To measure this, statistics for the greenhouse gas intensity from trade and industry have been suggested. Nevertheless there are shortcomings with using the measure of intensity as indicators for efficiency, as the intensity can change without being as a result of changed efficiency. Statistics for greenhouse gas intensity can however be assessed for each sector and completed with knowledge of the technology development of the sector. With this, accuracy of statistics is increased in indicating development over time.

Statistics for greenhouse gas emissions from various industries per value added by processing show that the greenhouse gas intensity from trade and industry reduced by 42 per cent in the period between 1993–2008. There is also data for the period 1970–1990 that shows that structural change did not provide an important explanation for the reduction in greenhouse gas intensity. Instead, it was mainly as a result of a changed mix of energy and better energy efficiency within the respective branches.

It is difficult to identify which companies in Sweden are environment companies, i.e., consumers or producers of 'technology that is less damaging for the environment than other accessible alternatives'. One source is of course Statistics Sweden (SCB) and their database of environmental companies that, as a rule, consist of companies in the 'traditional' environment sector (1), but also environment areas such as sustainable agriculture and fisheries in addition to renewable energy. Yet the sector only represents a small per cent of the total company population and it is not obvious for what an increase or decrease of the environment sector will mean for the green structural change. Nevertheless, these statistics create a part of the suggested environmental technology portfolio.

Statistics for environmental companies have previously been published in two (2) separate statistics reports, hence why the development of environmental companies has only briefly been summarised in this report. It is worth noting that the export of environmental companies in the period between 2003–2010 increased by approximately 60 per cent, whilst Sweden's total export increased by 50 per cent.

The environmental technology portfolio includes statistics about the exports of environment companies from a level of product group, which provides an insight into the product content of the environmental technology. Through statistics from a product group level, it is also possible to analyse other company exports of these product groups.

The collation shows that the largest group level, non electrical consisted of around half of the product exports (3) in addition to electronic machines and apparatus (4).

'Waste and scrap' of various kinds provide a significant export total within certain product categories. In 2010, almost 19 per cent of total environment technology exports consisted of 'waste and scrap'. Moreover, the product group has strongly increased since 2003, when the total was seven per cent.

The overall picture is that Sweden performs relatively well within the environmental technology area and Swedish companies are ranked highly when it comes to environmental technology innovations measured by the number of patents within the environmental technology area. Swedish trade and industry has also become more climate-efficient in regard to greenhouse gas intensity. The number of green companies has increased between 2003 and 2010 and the number of participants has increased as with added value and export.

Growth Analysis has deemed that the environmental technology statistics portfolio completes the statistics for the environment sector and provides a better picture of the development within the environmental technology area, in comparison to previous statistics.

(1) Companies within water, air and waste treatment in addition to waste management.

(2) Statistics on the Environmental Sector 2003-2010, Growth Analysis 2011:08 and Statistics on the environmental sector – Supplementary report on the number of active 2010 and production and processing value 2003-2010, Growth Analysis 2012:02

(3) Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery, apparatus, mechanical tools plus parts for such products.

(4) Electronic machinery and apparatus, electronic material plus parts for such products, apparatus for recording or production of sound etc.

Title
Statistics and indicators regarding industrial conversions to green technology - A suggestion for an environmental technology statistic portfolio

Serial number
Report 2012:07

Reference number
2011/220

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