Field: Grön omställning

From environmental statistics to insight

In this report we provide suggestions on the design of a framework for monitoring the green transition at industry level. We also provide suggestions on the development of new statistics in the environmental area.

Mapping reveal gaps and the need for new monitoring

Our mapping of strategies, action plans and initiatives to promote the green transition of business reveals a high level of complexity. Out of the 48 initiatives identified we see that each one has a thematic focus and that the green transition of business is included only as one component among many.

We also determine that from the 27 national and international frameworks and sets of indicators identified, there is not one that specifically monitors the business sector and its economic and environmental drivers and pressures. That which comes closest is the OECD green growth strategy with its accompanying framework and indicators.

In our mapping exercise we have identified 35 actors and 155 different statistical products in the field of environmental statistics that are in some way also connected to economic indicators. We see that there are flexibilities available in the choices of what to measure regularly. The access to data is good and the possibilities to further develop it are excellent. To achieve a consolidated monitoring of the overall green transition of the business sector a new set of indicators are needed.
We have identified four important areas of use that we highlight with the new proposal to monitor the green transition of the business sector:

  1. To monitor in an integrated way the different political targets for the outcome of the green transition of the business sector.
  2. To monitor investments made to enable the green transition of the business sector.
  3. To monitor how economic instruments affect the green transition of the business sector.
  4. To monitor the development of parts of the business sector identified as particularly important for the comprehensive green transition of the business economy, such as the energy, transport, bioeconomy and green technology sectors.

Our proposed framework

Ve recommend an annual monitoring framework that follows the development of and identifies interesting events at a macro level – nationally and by industry. With our proposed extended availability of microdata, we lay the foundations for increased evaluations of effects and for wider socio-economic analysis.

We deem the framework developed by the OECD on green growth (2011) a good starting point for our areas of use. The framework is general in its design which makes it suitable for multiple purposes. If complemented with indicators adapted to national conditions, it provides us with a stabile foundation and the right conditions to focus and enhance the monitoring of the Swedish situation.

We suggest categorising the indicators in our framework into three thematic areas: The transition of industries, financing and investments and focus areas. The transition of industries and financing and investments are the base selection that will be monitored annually. The focus areas are a flexible part of the framework that builds on other delimitations and categorisations of the data (as compared to the NACE breakdown in the other themes). Current focus areas are the energy, transport, bioeconomy and environmental technology sectors. It is possible that the focus areas will change from year to year depending on the changes in the society and interests.

Available indicators need to be complemented

The core of our proposed framework is the national- and environmental accounts. The statistics available in this area are produced by Statistics Sweden and encompass, besides the collected statistics on national accounts, statistics on emission to air and climate, chemical use, energy use and environmental economic instruments, to mention a few. For a comprehensive coverage of the green transition of business we need to complement the monitoring with data from the Swedish Energy Agency, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the Swedish Chemicals Agency.
Examples of relevant data that could be developed from existing statistics is the number of students graduating from higher education with an environmentally relevant focus and statistics related to green patents. Statistics completely missing on industry levels are environmental permits, green bonds and staff training.

We have identified important gaps in certain statistics around environmentally relevant innovation, R&D as well as investments. There are several reasons for the lack of development in this area. Lack of financing, lack of coordination between producers of statistics and users of the same data, and a lack of clarity surrounding the process of how new user needs are incorporated within the statistical authorities are some examples of barriers to development.

To handle these data gaps, we suggest that the Council of Official Statistics are commissioned to coordinate the statistical responsible authorities within the legislated areas of “Environment” and “Energy”. The Swedish Environment Protection Agency, Statistics Sweden, Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, the Chemical Agency and the Swedish Energy Agency.
We have also identified a need to further develop methods and analysis that ties local environmental status to the business sector, nationally and by industry. We recommend that government authorities with research grants investigates the possibility to, in their research programmes, include funding for solving this need for statistics. Through e.g., GIS modelling this could contribute to increased knowledge on the contributions and effect of ecosystem services on the business sector.

Our role as an evaluator

At Growth Analysis we host a unique micro database IFDB (the database on individuals and businesses) which consists of anonymized data, mainly sourced from Statistics Sweden.
Through the mapping of environmental statistics, we identified several areas of relevance to incorporate into this database. Our proposal is therefore to further develop IFDB with a new regular data collection focusing on climate and waste statistics, environmental protection expenditure, environmental taxes and tax exemptions. This would be done in cooperation with the responsible statistical authorities.

We also propose to initiate a dialogue with relevant authorities to investigate the possibilities to complement our micro database of government support to businesses (MISS) with environmentally relevant support schemes. Relevant authorities would be the Swedish Transport Administration, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, The Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning and The Swedish Forest Agency.


From environmental statistics to insight

Serial number: Rapport AU 2021:02

Reference number: 2020/163

Download the Swedish report Pdf, 1.5 MB.


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