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Recoil effects and design of control means

Reducing recoil effects will be crucial to achieving set climate and environmental goals. The study has explored what practically useful strategies can look like to avoid recoil effects when designing instruments with a focus on the transport sector. Three important keys are to always take stock of possible recoil and side effects in the investigation phase, not to set too narrow system boundaries, and to evaluate the effects of measures at the societal level.

Despite major investments in the environmental field over many decades in the form of, for example, technical innovations, economic climate instruments and other implementation of environmental management, the world's total environmental impact and greenhouse gas emissions are increasing. An important explanation for this is the existence of so-called recoil effects, where the positive effect of a measure or instrument is counteracted by secondary effects that have consequences in the opposite direction. Breaking this development is a necessary step towards achieving set environmental goals and a long-term sustainable society.

The project has investigated, among other things:

  • What recoil effects are likely to occur in connection with measures and instruments in the transport sector?
  • What measures and instruments (designs and combinations) avoid or minimize recoil effects in the transport area?
  • What other effects do these measures and instruments have? (side effects, social effects)
  • What potential is there for the implementation and acceptance of these instruments?

Rapport från projektet

Bil med backspegel med flygplan.


There is much to suggest that the strategies that work best to reduce emissions from the transport sector can either be broad and system-wide, or narrow and accurate. Measures that hit particularly emission-intensive activities such as aviation tend to be effective despite recoil effects. It is important to point out that large recoil effects do not in themselves have to be a problem - as long as the net result of the measure / measures is positive at system level.


Traffic, cars driving towards sunset

Policy brief

More knowledge is needed about how recoil effects can be
avoided, but above all strategies that are useful in policy processes and in the design of policy instruments. In this policy brief, the project talks about the results of a study focused on the transport sector and on the effects of measures on greenhouse gas emissions, but the results are useful for recoil effects in other areas as well.

Project facts

  • Recoil effects and design of control means
  • Budget: 3 249 266 SEK
  • Partners: KTH
  • Period: 2019 - 2021


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