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Towards more accurate and policy relevant footprint analyses: Tracing fine-scale socio-environmental impacts of production to consumption


  • Godar, Javier
  • Persson, U. Martin
  • Tizado, E. Jorge
  • Meyfroidt, Patrick


The consumption of internationally traded goods causes multiple socio-environmental impacts. Current methods linking production impacts to final consumption typically trace the origin of products back to the country level, lacking fine-scale spatial resolution. This hampers accurate calculation of trade and consumption footprints, masking and distorting the causal links between consumers' choices and their environmental impacts, especially in countries with large spatial variability in socio-environmental conditions and production impacts. Here we present the SEI-PCS model (Spatially Explicit Information on Production to Consumption Systems), which allows for fine-scale sub-national assessments of the origin of, and socio-environmental impacts embedded in, traded commodities. The method connects detailed production data at sub-national scales (e.g., municipalities or provinces), information on domestic flows of goods and in international trade. The model permits the downscaling of country-to-country trade analyses based on either physical allocation from bilateral trade matrices or MRIO models. The importance of producing more spatially-explicit trade analyses is illustrated by identifying the municipalities of Brazil from which different countries source the Brazilian soy they consume. Applications for improving consumption accounting and policy assessment are discussed, including quantification of externalities of consumption, consumer labeling, trade leakages, sustainable resource supply and traceability.

Suggested Citation

  • Godar, Javier & Persson, U. Martin & Tizado, E. Jorge & Meyfroidt, Patrick, 2015. "Towards more accurate and policy relevant footprint analyses: Tracing fine-scale socio-environmental impacts of production to consumption," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 25-35.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:112:y:2015:i:c:p:25-35
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2015.02.003

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rada, Nicholas E., 2013. "ASSESSING BRAZIL’s CERRADO AGRICULTURAL MIRACLE: AN UPDATE," Revista de Economia e Agronegócio / Brazilian Review of Economics and Agribusiness, Federal University of Vicosa, Department of Agricultural Economics, vol. 11(1), pages 1-38.
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    5. Kastner, Thomas & Kastner, Michael & Nonhebel, Sanderine, 2011. "Tracing distant environmental impacts of agricultural products from a consumer perspective," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(6), pages 1032-1040, April.
    6. Glen Peters & Robbie Andrew & James Lennox, 2011. "Constructing An Environmentally-Extended Multi-Regional Input-Output Table Using The Gtap Database," Economic Systems Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(2), pages 131-152.
    7. Wiedmann, Thomas & Wilting, Harry C. & Lenzen, Manfred & Lutter, Stephan & Palm, Viveka, 2011. "Quo Vadis MRIO? Methodological, data and institutional requirements for multi-region input-output analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(11), pages 1937-1945, September.
    8. Rada, Nicholas, 2013. "Assessing Brazil’s Cerrado agricultural miracle," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 146-155.
    9. 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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    1. repec:eee:wdevel:v:121:y:2019:i:c:p:178-187 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Bruckner, Martin & Wood, Richard & Moran, Daniel & Kuschnig, Nikolas & Wieland, Hanspeter & Maus, Victor & Börner, Jan, 2019. "FABIO - The Construction of the Food and Agriculture Biomass Input-Output Model," Ecological Economic Papers 6991, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business.
    3. repec:eee:wdevel:v:121:y:2019:i:c:p:188-202 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Bruckner, Martin & Giljum, Stefan & Fischer, Günther & Tramberend, Sylvia & Börner, Jan, 2018. "The global cropland footprint of the non-food bioeconomy," Discussion Papers 271062, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
    5. repec:eee:ecoser:v:35:y:2019:i:c:p:207-218 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. zu Ermgassen, Erasmus K.H.J. & Phalan, Ben & Green, Rhys E. & Balmford, Andrew, 2016. "Reducing the land use of EU pork production: where there’s swill, there’s a way," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 35-48.
    7. repec:bla:inecol:v:22:y:2018:i:6:p:1378-1388 is not listed on IDEAS


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