International Industrial Ecology Day 2021

PIOLab-SE: Constructing a global physical input-output laboratory for spatially explicit environmental impact assessments

Informed environmental-economic policy decisions require a solid understanding of the economy’s biophysical basis. Global physical input-output tables (gPIOTs) collate a vast array of information on the world economy’s physical structure and its interdependence with the environment, which can help to monitor progress towards a sustainable circular economy. However, building gPIOTs requires dealing with mismatched and incomplete primary data with high uncertainties, which makes it a time-consuming and labor-intensive endeavor. We address this challenge by introducing the PIOLab: A virtual laboratory for building gPIOTs. It represents the newest branch of the Industrial Ecology virtual laboratory (IELab) concept, a cloud-computing platform and collaborative research environment through which participants can use each other’s resources to assemble individual input-output tables targeting specific research questions. To overcome the lack of primary data, the PIOLab builds extensively upon secondary data derived from a variety of models commonly used in Industrial Ecology. In the first part of the presentation, we showcase some of the analytical capabilities of the PIOLab using the case of global iron-steel supply chains. For example, a major strength of such a gPIOT is its ability to provide mass-balanced indicators on both apparent/direct and embodied/indirect flows, for regions and disaggregated economic sectors. In the second part of the presentation, we present ongoing work on the newest spatially explicit version of the laboratory (PIOLab-SE), which provides a holistic yet flexible modelling framework for material and energy footprints as well as environmental impact assessments of mining activities on the subnational level.



Name Affiliation
Hanspeter Wieland Institute of Social Ecology (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna)
Stefan Giljum Institute for Ecological Economics / Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU)

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