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North and south: Regional footprints on the transition pathway towards a low carbon, global economy


  • Cranston, G.R.
  • Hammond, G.P.


Environmental or [`]ecological' footprints are indicators of resource consumption and waste absorption transformed on the basis of biologically productive land area required per capita with prevailing technology. They represent a partial measure of the extent to which the planet, its regions, or nations are moving along a sustainable development pathway. Such footprints vary between countries at different stages of economic development and varying geographic characteristics. A correlation equation for national environmental footprints is used, alongside international projections of population growth and gross regional income, to estimate the relative contributions of the peoples of the industrialised North and populous South that would be needed in order to secure climate-stabilising carbon reductions out to about 2100. The four so-called [`]marker scenarios' produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are used to estimate the degree of energy efficiency improvement and carbon mitigation that is feasible. The present footprint projections suggest that a reduction in the consumption of biophysical assets across both the developing and industrialised world is indeed possible. However, the developing world's footprint is shown to overshoot that of the industrialised countries by around 2010-2015. It then levels out and starts to fall, on the most optimistic scenario, by about 2050. In order to achieve global sustainability in the 21st Century a serious commitment to environmental protection is required in both the industrialised North and the [`]majority South'. That implies balancing population growth, economic well-being, and environmental impacts in the interests of all the people and wildlife on [`]Spaceship Earth'.

Suggested Citation

  • Cranston, G.R. & Hammond, G.P., 2010. "North and south: Regional footprints on the transition pathway towards a low carbon, global economy," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 87(9), pages 2945-2951, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:87:y:2010:i:9:p:2945-2951

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. World Commission on Environment and Development,, 1987. "Our Common Future," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780192820808.
    2. Odum, Howard T. & Odum, Elisabeth C., 2006. "The prosperous way down," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 21-32.
    3. Nebojsa Nakicenovic & Peter Kolp & Keywan Riahi & Mikiko Kainuma & Tatsuya Hanaoka, 2006. "Assessment of emissions scenarios revisited," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 7(3), pages 137-173, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hammond, Geoffrey P. & Seth, Shashank M., 2013. "Carbon and environmental footprinting of global biofuel production," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 547-559.
    2. Alderson, Helen & Cranston, Gemma R. & Hammond, Geoffrey P., 2012. "Carbon and environmental footprinting of low carbon UK electricity futures to 2050," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 96-107.
    3. Coatalem, Martin & Mazauric, Vincent & Le Pape-Gardeux, Claude & Maïzi, Nadia, 2017. "Optimizing industries’ power generation assets on the electricity markets," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 185(P2), pages 1744-1756.
    4. Farrahi Moghaddam, Reza & Farrahi Moghaddam, Fereydoun & Cheriet, Mohamed, 2013. "A modified GHG intensity indicator: Toward a sustainable global economy based on a carbon border tax and emissions trading," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 363-380.
    5. Monlau, F. & Francavilla, M. & Sambusiti, C. & Antoniou, N. & Solhy, A. & Libutti, A. & Zabaniotou, A. & Barakat, A. & Monteleone, M., 2016. "Toward a functional integration of anaerobic digestion and pyrolysis for a sustainable resource management. Comparison between solid-digestate and its derived pyrochar as soil amendment," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 169(C), pages 652-662.
    6. Schlör, Holger & Fischer, Wolfgang & Hake, Jürgen-Friedrich, 2013. "Methods of measuring sustainable development of the German energy sector," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 172-181.
    7. Reza Farrahi Moghaddam & Fereydoun Farrahi Moghaddam & Mohamed Cheriet, 2014. "IIGHGINT: A generalization to the modified GHG intensity universal indicator toward a production/consumption insensitive border carbon tax," Papers 1401.0301,, revised Apr 2014.
    8. Chen, Hong & Long, Ruyin & Niu, Wenjing & Feng, Qun & Yang, Ranran, 2014. "How does individual low-carbon consumption behavior occur? – An analysis based on attitude process," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 376-386.
    9. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:9:p:3107-:d:166851 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Li, Y.P. & Huang, G.H. & Chen, X., 2011. "Planning regional energy system in association with greenhouse gas mitigation under uncertainty," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 88(3), pages 599-611, March.
    11. Alvarez, Sergio & Sosa, María & Rubio, Agustín, 2015. "Product and corporate carbon footprint using the compound method based on financial accounts. The case of Osorio wind farms," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 196-204.
    12. Schlör, Holger & Fischer, Wolfgang & Hake, Jürgen-Friedrich, 2012. "Measuring social welfare, energy and inequality in Germany," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 135-142.


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