International trade and the distribution of environmental goods and burdens: a biophysical perspective.

Giljum, S., Eisenmenger, N., (2004)

In : Journal of Environment and Development 13 (1), 73 – 100.

only Abstract available.

The implications of North-South trade for economic development and the distribution of economic benefits through international trade have been a long-standing discussion in economics. In the last 20 years, environmental distribution issues gained increasing attention in the international debate, in particular since the recognition of sustainable development as the guiding principle for future global development. In this paper we take a biophysical perspective to analyze the distribution of environmental goods versus environmental burdens in North-South trade relations. Studies based on physical accounting are particularly suitable to elucidate environmental consequences of economic specialization processes in different world regions, as they clarify implications for both the use of natural resources and the generation of waste and emissions in a coherent and comprehensive manner. Empirical evidence from biophysical accounting studies suggests that the formation of specific metabolic profiles of societies in North and South as a consequence of specialization leads to an unequal distribution of environmental goods and burdens. The paper closes with an evaluation of policy measures and instruments with regard to their likely effects on environmental distribution between North and South.

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