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Globalisation and the shifting environmental burden : material trade flows of the European Union ; which globalisation is sustainable?

  • This paper examines the connection between globalisation, with its growth in world trade links, and certain ecological effects especially concerning "North-South" relations. Although world trade in the mid-nineties was significantly uncoupled from growth trends in the world economy, so that since then it has increased nearly three times faster than the global GDP, certain indicators of energy use and CO2 emissions have not developed proportionately to world trade; globalisation evidently does not lead to a situation where pressures on the environment are increasing to the same extent worldwide. This de-linking may, however, result in the kind of shifts that we examine here with reference to the material trade flows of the European Union. ItThis paper examines the connection between globalisation, with its growth in world trade links, and certain ecological effects especially concerning "North-South" relations. Although world trade in the mid-nineties was significantly uncoupled from growth trends in the world economy, so that since then it has increased nearly three times faster than the global GDP, certain indicators of energy use and CO2 emissions have not developed proportionately to world trade; globalisation evidently does not lead to a situation where pressures on the environment are increasing to the same extent worldwide. This de-linking may, however, result in the kind of shifts that we examine here with reference to the material trade flows of the European Union. It will be shown that, in the course of globalisation, the countries of the EU have increasingly shifted environmental burdens on to the countries of the South, especially in the form of ecological rucksacks of imported raw materials, while at the same time reducing the pressure on their own domestic environment by extracting fewer material resources. Furthermore, goods whose production places intensive pressure on the environment (industrial emissions into the atmosphere and water, heavy metal emissions, etc.) have been increasingly imported from newly industrializing or developing countries. The greater covering of material requirements from foreign resources has served not so much the EU's internal consumption as its own production of export goods; this shows that the EU has an increasing share in the resource requirement of other economies. The paper concludes that it is absolutely necessary to consider the international dimension in any strategy for more productive use of resources in industrial countries. In the long term, the EU's resource use should also be reduced in absolute terms. This will also be necessary in order to reduce the pressure on the environment due to imports and exports.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Document Type:Working Paper
Author:Helmut Schütz, Stephan Moll, Stefan Bringezu
URN (citable link):https://nbn-resolving.org/urn:nbn:de:bsz:wup4-opus-19167
Publisher:Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie
Place of Publication:Wuppertal
Year of Publication:2004
Pagenumber:62
Series Title (English):Wuppertal papers
Volume:134e
Language:English
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Wirtschaft
Licence:License LogoIn Copyright - Urheberrechtlich geschützt