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Material use and material efficiency in Latin America and the Caribbean

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  • West, James
  • Schandl, Heinz

Abstract

Different world regions have followed very different trajectories for natural resources use over the recent decades. Latin America has pursued a development path based largely on exports of primary resources. Adopting this path has characteristic environmental and social impacts. In this paper, we provide the first broad based estimate of material use and material efficiency for the region, beginning in 1970 and extending to the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008. The results show a region with rapidly growing primary materials consumption, which is simultaneously becoming less efficient at converting those resources into national income. Using an IPAT framework, we found that population growth and rising per-capita incomes made comparable contributions to growing material use, while technological change as reflected in material intensity, did not moderate consumption. Increasing materials intensity, observed for the region as a whole, is also observed for most individual countries. This contrasts with some other world regions, and implies that many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean will confront higher environmental pressures than expected when expanding their extractive industries to take advantage of new demand from other world regions, while simultaneously supplying the requirements for their own domestic industrial transformations and urbanization.

Suggested Citation

  • West, James & Schandl, Heinz, 2013. "Material use and material efficiency in Latin America and the Caribbean," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 19-27.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:94:y:2013:i:c:p:19-27
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2013.06.015
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ríos Ocampo, Juan Pablo & Olaya Morales, Yris, 2016. "Sostenibilidad del consumo doméstico de materiales de construcción en Colombia, 1990-2013," REVISTA LECTURAS DE ECONOMÍA, UNIVERSIDAD DE ANTIOQUIA - CIE, issue 86, pages 127-151, December.
    2. Mayer, Andreas & Haas, Willi & Wiedenhofer, Dominik, 2017. "How Countries' Resource Use History Matters for Human Well-being – An Investigation of Global Patterns in Cumulative Material Flows from 1950 to 2010," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 1-10.
    3. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:3:p:723-:d:135017 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:eee:jrpoli:v:52:y:2017:i:c:p:336-348 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Garmendia, Eneko & Urkidi, Leire & Arto, Iñaki & Barcena, Iñaki & Bermejo, Roberto & Hoyos, David & Lago, Rosa, 2016. "Tracing the impacts of a northern open economy on the global environment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 169-181.
    6. Juan Pablo Ríos Ocampo & Yris Olaya Morales, 2017. "Sustainability of the domestic consumption of construction materials in Colombia, 1990-2013," Lecturas de Economía, Universidad de Antioquia, Departamento de Economía, issue 86, pages 127-151, Enero - J.
    7. Hurmekoski, Elias & Hetemäki, Lauri & Linden, Mika, 2015. "Factors affecting sawnwood consumption in Europe," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 236-248.
    8. Fishman, Tomer & Schandl, Heinz & Tanikawa, Hiroki, 2015. "The socio-economic drivers of material stock accumulation in Japan's prefectures," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 76-84.
    9. Samaniego, Pablo & Vallejo, María Cristina & Martínez-Alier, Joan, 2017. "Commercial and biophysical deficits in South America, 1990–2013," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 62-73.
    10. West, James & Schandl, Heinz & Krausmann, Fridolin & Kovanda, Jan & Hak, Tomas, 2014. "Patterns of change in material use and material efficiency in the successor states of the former Soviet Union," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 211-219.
    11. Baka, Jennifer & Bailis, Robert, 2014. "Wasteland energy-scapes: A comparative energy flow analysis of India's biofuel and biomass economies," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 8-17.
    12. Latorre, Sara & Farrell, Katharine N. & Martínez-Alier, Joan, 2015. "The commodification of nature and socio-environmental resistance in Ecuador: An inventory of accumulation by dispossession cases, 1980–2013," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 58-69.
    13. Lutter, Stephan & Giljum, Stefan & Bruckner, Martin, 2016. "A review and comparative assessment of existing approaches to calculate material footprints," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 1-10.

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