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The cost of natural capital consumption: Accounting for a sustainable world economy

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  • Bartelmus, Peter

Abstract

The System for integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting (SEEA) has been criticized in this journal for ignoring the benefits of ecosystem services for human well-being. This paper argues that extended national accounts should not attempt measuring economic welfare. Rather, they could and should assess the environmental sustainability of economic activity as the cost of natural capital consumption. The global application of SEEA concepts and methods demonstrates the feasibility of international green accounting. For the world economy, sustainability costs run to about 3trillion US$ or 6% of world GDP. Large variations at national and regional levels suggest that conventional economic indicators may significantly overstate economic progress in some parts of the world. Data gaps and lack of data comparability affect these first estimates. National and international statistical services should be more aggressive in greening the national accounts. More prudent and more sustainable economic policies might be the result.

Suggested Citation

  • Bartelmus, Peter, 2009. "The cost of natural capital consumption: Accounting for a sustainable world economy," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(6), pages 1850-1857, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:68:y:2009:i:6:p:1850-1857
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Walker, B.H. & Pearson, L., 2007. "A resilience perspective of the SEEA," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(4), pages 708-715, March.
    2. Bartelmus, Peter, 2003. "Dematerialization and capital maintenance: two sides of the sustainability coin," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 61-81, August.
    3. Bringezu, Stefan & Schutz, Helmut & Steger, Soren & Baudisch, Jan, 2004. "International comparison of resource use and its relation to economic growth: The development of total material requirement, direct material inputs and hidden flows and the structure of TMR," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1-2), pages 97-124, November.
    4. Bartelmus, Peter, 2007. "SEEA-2003: Accounting for sustainable development?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(4), pages 613-616, March.
    5. Boyd, James, 2007. "Nonmarket benefits of nature: What should be counted in green GDP?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(4), pages 716-723, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Zhang, Xiaohong & Wu, Liqian & Zhang, Rong & Deng, Shihuai & Zhang, Yanzong & Wu, Jun & Li, Yuanwei & Lin, Lili & Li, Li & Wang, Yinjun & Wang, Lilin, 2013. "Evaluating the relationships among economic growth, energy consumption, air emissions and air environmental protection investment in China," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 18(C), pages 259-270.
    2. Peter Bartelmus, 2014. "Environmental–Economic Accounting: Progress and Digression in the SEEA Revisions," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 60(4), pages 887-904, December.
    3. Jean-Sauveur Ay & Jean-Marc Brayer & Jean Cavailhès & Pierre Curmi & Mohamed Hilal & Marjorie Ubertosi, 2012. "La valeur des attributs naturels des terres agricoles de Côte-d'Or," INRA UMR CESAER Working Papers 2012/1, INRA UMR CESAER, Centre d'’Economie et Sociologie appliquées à l'’Agriculture et aux Espaces Ruraux.
    4. Levrel, Harold & Jacob, Céline & Bailly, Denis & Charles, Mahe & Guyader, Olivier & Aoubid, Schéhérazade & Bas, Adeline & Cujus, Alexia & Frésard, Marjolaine & Girard, Sophie & Hay, Julien & Laurans, , 2014. "The maintenance costs of marine natural capital: A case study from the initial assessment of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive in France," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 37-47.
    5. repec:eee:ecoser:v:28:y:2017:i:pa:p:115-123 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Roman, Philippe & Thiry, Géraldine, 2016. "The inclusive wealth index. A critical appraisal," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 185-192.
    7. Taro Ohdoko & Kentaro Yoshida, 2012. "Public preferences for forest ecosystem management in Japan with emphasis on species diversity," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 14(2), pages 147-169, April.
    8. Nicholas Z. Muller, 2014. "Toward the Measurement of Net Economic Welfare: Air Pollution Damage in the U.S. National Accounts–2002, 2005, 2008," NBER Chapters,in: Measuring Economic Sustainability and Progress, pages 429-459 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. repec:eee:ecomod:v:377:y:2018:i:c:p:51-65 is not listed on IDEAS

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