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‘Environmental load displacement’ from the North to the South: A consumption-based perspective with a focus on China

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  • Peng, Shuijun
  • Zhang, Wencheng
  • Sun, Chuanwang

Abstract

Quantifying environmental load displacement from developed countries (the North) to developing countries (the South) is of particular importance for understanding the environmental implications of consumption in the North and global sustainability. Based on a global input–output model, this paper estimates emissions transfers between the North and the South for eight types of air pollutants from a consumption perspective, with a focus on emissions transfers between the North and China. The results show that 14%–30% of air pollutant emissions in the South were caused by consumption in the North in 2007. There is a large ‘pollution deficit’ between the North and South, which significantly increased during the period 1995–2007, that favors the theory of ecologically unequal exchange. Although the emissions per capita of the North from production for most air pollutants decreased over this period, the emissions per capita from consumption increased or decreased more mildly. The decomposition of emissions transfers further shows that South–South trade in intermediates has played an increasingly important role in environmental load displacement from the North to the South. It is important to assess the sustainability of so-called ‘weightless economies’ in the North from a global perspective that takes environmental load displacement into account.

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  • Peng, Shuijun & Zhang, Wencheng & Sun, Chuanwang, 2016. "‘Environmental load displacement’ from the North to the South: A consumption-based perspective with a focus on China," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 147-158.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:128:y:2016:i:c:p:147-158
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2016.04.020
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