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International trade and the sustainability footprint: a practical criterion for its assessment

Proops, John L. R., Atkinson, Giles ORCID: 0000-0001-6736-3074, Schlottheim, Burkhard Frhr.v. and Simon, Sandrine (1999) International trade and the sustainability footprint: a practical criterion for its assessment. Ecological Economics, 28 (1). pp. 78-97. ISSN 0921-8009

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Identification Number: 10.1016/S0921-8009(98)00030-5


A simple and minimal criterion for sustainability is that the value of natural capital plus manufactured capital be not decreasing. On the basis of any individual country or region, the above simple comparison may be misleading, as it does not take account of the production of goods for consumption in other countries/regions, via international trade. In other terms, the full `environmental footprint' of a country may not be properly assessed. A method of calculating a weak sustainability criterion has been established for both a `closed' economy approach and an `open' economy approach. There are significant differences between the open and closed economies measures for several regions, particularly the Middle East. Overall, global sustainability on this criterion has been positive, and increasing. Using a difference equation approach, a further analysis has been made of the average proportional rate of change of global sustainability between 1980 and 1990, and its various regional and structural components have been determined. These indicate that most of global sustainability growth can be attributed to Western Europe, Other Asia and Japan, particularly through high savings ratios. The USA, on the other hand, has made a very small net contribution to the growth in global sustainability.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 1999 Elsevier
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
JEL classification: Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics > Q0 - General > Q01 - Sustainable Development
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2010 12:26
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2024 02:15

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