© 2017, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany. This paper investigates the empirical and theoretical basis of the decoupling between energy throughput and economic growth, with a critical view of the use of the decoupling concept as a policy priority. We provide an analysis of the historical trends of the metabolic pattern of European economies over a period of 18 years focusing on the changes in energy throughput and financial assets. The results show that energy consumption per hour of labor has remained constant, suggesting that no significant changes in production processes or technology have taken place in the productive sectors of the economy. The contribution of this paper is to establish a bridge between the economic analysis of financialization and the societal metabolism analysis of the economic process from a biophysical point of view. We argue that this bridge is crucial to draw attention to the biophysical consequences of financialization (a relative decoupling) and critically assess the pertinence of policies aimed at encouraging the decoupling in the context of increasing inequality.
- Energy intensity
- Societal metabolism