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International comparison of resource use and its relation to economic growth : the development of total material requirement, direct material inputs and hidden flows and the structure of TMR

  • Resource flows constitute the materials basis of the economy. At the same time, they carry and induce an environmental burden associated with resource extraction and the subsequent material flows and stocks, which finally end up as waste and emissions. A reduction of this material throughput and the related impacts would require a reduction of resource inputs. And breaking the link between resource consumption and economicgrowth would require an increase in resource productivity. Material flow analysis (MFA) can be used to quantify resource flows and indicate resource productivity. In this article, we study the available empirical evidence on the actual (de-)linkage of material resource use and economic growth. We compare resource use withResource flows constitute the materials basis of the economy. At the same time, they carry and induce an environmental burden associated with resource extraction and the subsequent material flows and stocks, which finally end up as waste and emissions. A reduction of this material throughput and the related impacts would require a reduction of resource inputs. And breaking the link between resource consumption and economicgrowth would require an increase in resource productivity. Material flow analysis (MFA) can be used to quantify resource flows and indicate resource productivity. In this article, we study the available empirical evidence on the actual (de-)linkage of material resource use and economic growth. We compare resource use with respect to total material requirement (TMR) and direct material input (DMI) for 11 and 26 countries, respectively, and the European Union (EU-15). The dynamics of TMR, as well as of the main components are analysed in relation to economic growth in order to show whether there is a decoupling (relative or absolute) from GDP and a change of the metabolic structure in the course of economicdevelopment. DMI/cap so far only decoupled from GDP/cap in relative terms; that is, in most countries, it reached a rather constant level but - with the exception of Czech Republic - showed no absolute decline yet. TMR/cap was reduced in two high-income countries and one low-income country due to political influence. Changes in TMR were more influenced by hidden flows (HF) than by DMI. We analyse the dynamics of the structure and composition of TMR in the course of economic development. In general, the economic development of industrial countries was accompanied by a shift from domestic to foreign resource extraction. Different relations can be discovered for the share of biomass, fossil fuel resources, construction resources and metals and industrial minerals.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Document Type:Peer-Reviewed Article
Author:Stefan Bringezu, Helmut Schütz, Sören Steger, Jan Baudisch
Year of Publication:2004
Language:English
Source Title (English):Ecological economics
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2004.04.010
Volume:51
Issue:1/2
First Page:97
Last Page:124
Dewey Decimal Classification:600 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften