Systems Aspects of Environmental Accountability

Avenhaus, R. & Häfele, W. (1973). Systems Aspects of Environmental Accountability. IIASA Research Report. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: RR-73-006

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Human activities have increased in such a way that there now exists the danger that some global balances will be disturbed. As a result, there is today a widespread effort to get precise knowledge about these balances themselves as well as about the consequences of possible disturbances in these balances. Because of their magnitude, these problems are inter-related with other problems. Additionally, effects which were considered earlier to be side effects become important. All this means that for the treatment of these problems a systems approach seems necessary.

This paper recommends use of the general concept of material accountability for the analysis and treatment of these problems. This has already been proposed by different groups. The reason it is emphasized here is that the material accountability concept has proven extremely valuable in the establishment of the IAEA safeguards system for nuclear material in the peaceful nuclear industry. It is especially the organization of this system in the plant operator's responsibility (generation and reporting of source data for material balance) and in the safeguards authority's responsibility (verification of these data by means of independent measurements) which allowed the acceptance of this system on a broad international scale and which GROSSO MODO could serve as an example for any future global monitoring system.

In the first part of this paper, examples for balances existing in nature are given: oxygen, carbon dioxide, radiation balance of the earth atmosphere system. Models for these balances and their disturbances as well as the respective measurements are reported.

In the second part we have tried to explain why the treatment of these problems necessarily leads into the field of systems analysis. Special reference is made to the problems outlined in this paper.

As an example for this kind of approach and for an existing global control system, the IAEA safeguards system and the mathematical models developed in the course of establishing that system are sketched in the third part.

In the fourth part, the economic implications of material accountability are described using the input-output approach; for the example of sulphur it is demonstrated in which way the consequences of constraints -- e.g. in the form of emission standards -- can be analyzed.

The paper ends with a schematic representation of the complex interrelations between the basic concepts: material accountability, verification by means of measurements, and economic implications.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Research Report)
Research Programs: Energy Program (ENP)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 01:40
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:07

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