IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Tracing distant environmental impacts of agricultural products from a consumer perspective


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


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.

Suggested Citation

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

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Tukker, Arnold & Poliakov, Evgueni & Heijungs, Reinout & Hawkins, Troy & Neuwahl, Frederik & Rueda-Cantuche, José M. & Giljum, Stefan & Moll, Stephan & Oosterhaven, Jan & Bouwmeester, Maaike, 2009. "Towards a global multi-regional environmentally extended input-output database," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(7), pages 1928-1937, May.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Haberl, Helmut & Kastner, Thomas & Schaffartzik, Anke & Ludwiczek, Nikolaus & Erb, Karl-Heinz, 2012. "Global effects of national biomass production and consumption: Austria's embodied HANPP related to agricultural biomass in the year 2000," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 66-73.
    4. 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.
    5. Bruckner, Martin & Fischer, Günther & Tramberend, Sylvia & Giljum, Stefan, 2015. "Measuring telecouplings in the global land system: A review and comparative evaluation of land footprint accounting methods," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 11-21.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:70:y:2011:i:6:p:1032-1040. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.