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Tracing distant environmental impacts of agricultural products from a consumer perspective

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  • Kastner, Thomas
  • Kastner, Michael
  • Nonhebel, Sanderine
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    Abstract

    Globally, trade flows of agricultural products are increasing. While value is typically added along the whole production chain, certain environmental impacts, such as land and water use, biomass appropriation, and soil degradation, are intrinsically linked to where the primary products originate from. When taking a consumer oriented approach on environmental problems, bilateral trade statistics can help in providing a clearer picture about the location of impacts caused by consumption elsewhere. However, in today's increasingly globalized world, consumer goods are often imported from countries other than where the primary product originated from. For instance, soybeans are transported from Brazil to the Netherlands, where they are processed into soy oil, which is shipped to Austria, where it is consumed. Utilizing bilateral trade matrices and matrix algebra, we present a method that allows to clearly link consumption patterns to the origin of primary products. In this, the method can help to provide information about consumption related, distant environmental impacts. We employ the case of land and water use linked to Austria's soy product consumption to demonstrate the approach's relevance. Finally, we outline some possible applications of this method to show its potential in enhancing understanding for informed consumer based environmental decision making.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6VDY-527MR34-6/2/bba04a9e70027b6cabe1359e9239946f
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

    Volume (Year): 70 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 6 (April)
    Pages: 1032-1040

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:70:y:2011:i:6:p:1032-1040

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

    Related research

    Keywords: Consumer perspective Environmental impacts Agricultural products Trade;

    References

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    1. Kitzes, Justin & Galli, Alessandro & Bagliani, Marco & Barrett, John & Dige, Gorm & Ede, Sharon & Erb, Karlheinz & Giljum, Stefan & Haberl, Helmut & Hails, Chris & Jolia-Ferrier, Laurent & Jungwirth, , 2009. "A research agenda for improving national Ecological Footprint accounts," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(7), pages 1991-2007, May.
    2. Gehlhar, Mark, 1996. "Reconciling Bilateral Trade Data for Use in GTAP," GTAP Technical Papers 313, Center for Global Trade Analysis, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University.
    3. Moran, Daniel D. & Wackernagel, Mathis C. & Kitzes, Justin A. & Heumann, Benjamin W. & Phan, Doantam & Goldfinger, Steven H., 2009. "Trading spaces: Calculating embodied Ecological Footprints in international trade using a Product Land Use Matrix (PLUM)," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(7), pages 1938-1951, May.
    4. Wiedmann, Thomas, 2009. "A review of recent multi-region input-output models used for consumption-based emission and resource accounting," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 211-222, December.
    5. van Oel, P.R. & Mekonnen, M.M. & Hoekstra, A.Y., 2009. "The external water footprint of the Netherlands: Geographically-explicit quantification and impact assessment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 82-92, November.
    6. Gavrilova, Olga & Jonas, Matthias & Erb, Karlheinz & Haberl, Helmut, 2010. "International trade and Austria's livestock system: Direct and hidden carbon emission flows associated with production and consumption of products," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(4), pages 920-929, February.
    7. Gerbens-Leenes, P. W. & Nonhebel, S., 2002. "Consumption patterns and their effects on land required for food," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1-2), pages 185-199, August.
    8. Haberl, Helmut & Erb, Karl-Heinz & Krausmann, Fridolin, 2001. "How to calculate and interpret ecological footprints for long periods of time: the case of Austria 1926-1995," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 25-45, July.
    9. Wurtenberger, Laura & Koellner, Thomas & Binder, Claudia R., 2006. "Virtual land use and agricultural trade: Estimating environmental and socio-economic impacts," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(4), pages 679-697, June.
    10. Erb, Karl-Heinz & Krausmann, Fridolin & Lucht, Wolfgang & Haberl, Helmut, 2009. "Embodied HANPP: Mapping the spatial disconnect between global biomass production and consumption," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 328-334, December.
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    Cited by:
    1. Panzone, Luca A. & Wossink, Ada & Southerton, Dale, 2013. "The design of an environmental index of sustainable food consumption: A pilot study using supermarket data," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 44-55.
    2. Henders, Sabine & Ostwald, Madelene, 2014. "Accounting methods for international land-related leakage and distant deforestation drivers," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 21-28.

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