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Global Environmental Footprints


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The full report, “Global environmental footprints: A guide to estimating, interpreting and using consumption-based accounts of resource use and environmental impacts”, was funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers, Environment and Economy Group. The report focuses on carbon, land, water, and material footprints.

Published in: Environment
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Global Environmental Footprints

  1. 1. Global Environmental Footprints Glen Peters, Robbie Andrew, Jonas Karstensen (CICERO) Nordic Council of Ministers, Environment and Economy Group (16/03/2017)
  2. 2. @Peters_Glen • Why look at “environmental footprints”? • Methods and data • Policy relevance • Policy applications • Questions and discussion Outline
  3. 3. @Peters_Glen Why look at “environmental footprints”?
  4. 4. @Peters_Glen Consumption-based emissions are: production-based emissions – emissions to produce exports + emissions to produce imports Source: Global Carbon Budget 2016 (update) Consumption-based emissions
  5. 5. @Peters_Glen Consumption-based emissions are: production-based emissions – emissions to produce exports + emissions to produce imports Source: Global Carbon Budget 2016 Consumption-based emissions
  6. 6. @Peters_Glen Can calculate an environmental footprint for all environmental problems, but policy implications can differ Source: Hoekstra and Wiedmann (2014) Global environmental footprints
  7. 7. @Peters_Glen Methods and data
  8. 8. @Peters_Glen • Scale – Product, person, household, city, state, country – Bottom-up (LCA), top-down (MRIO) • Flow – Physical (water in a melon, carbon in coal) – Virtual (emissions air/water to produce a product) • Supply chain – Apparent consumption (direct trade flows only) – Final consumption (global supply chains) Definitions
  9. 9. @Peters_Glen • Air pollutants (most common, virtual, final consumption) – Long-lived: CO2, GHG (“carbon footprints”) – Short-lived: SO2, black carbon, etc • Material footprints – Metals ores, fossil fuels, construction, biomass, etc – Apparent (Domestic Material Consumption, DMC) – Final consumption (physical and virtual flows) • Water – Green (used by plants, rainwater) – Blue (ground, surface: hydropower, irrigation, industry) – Grey (polluted) – Apparent or final consumption Environmental footprints (1)
  10. 10. @Peters_Glen • Land – Crops, pastures, forests – Physical areas – Apparent or final consumption – Related (ecological footprint, HANPP) • Economic – Trade in Value Added (TiVA) – Economic flows – Final consumption • … Environmental footprints (2)
  11. 11. @Peters_Glen Calculation steps and uncertainties
  12. 12. @Peters_Glen Danish CO2 emissions differ when using environmental (UNFCCC) and economic (NAMEA) accounts International transport the main issue, and effects all Nordic countries (to different degrees) Emissions data
  13. 13. @Peters_Glen Different datasets, different total emissions, different sector distribution Emissions data
  14. 14. @Peters_Glen • Multi-regional input-output analysis – Economic method with data from System of National Accounts – Top-down allocation between sectors – Data driven approach • Key assumptions – Linear, output is proportional to inputs – Monetary data (not physical) – Aggregation (e.g., 100 sectors) – Each industry produces one product • Assumptions ok for historical attribution at national level Linking production to consumption
  15. 15. @Peters_Glen Hot colours represent largest transactions between sectors in the (New Zealand) economy Source: Robbie Andrew Input-Output Analysis Consuming Sector ProducingSector
  16. 16. @Peters_Glen Hot colours represent largest transactions between sectors in the (global) economy Source: Robbie Andrew Multi-regional Input-Output Analysis Consuming Region and Sector ProducingRegionandSector
  17. 17. @Peters_Glen • GTAP-MRIO: 120 countries, 57 sectors, 1997, 2001, 04, 07, 11 – CICERO version in timeseries 1990-2014 (CO2 only) • WIOD: 40 countries, 35 sectors, 1995-2011 • Eora: 187 ‘countries’, average 85 sectors, 1970+, automated • EXIOBASE: 43 countries, 163 sectors, 2000, 2008, time-series (?) • OECD: 34+27 countries, 34 sectors, 1995-2011 • … • Most have VA, CO2, some GHG, less land, water, materials, … • Problems with ‘off-the-shelf’ data and results Economic Accounts
  18. 18. @Peters_Glen Large structural uncertainties in production emissions, propogates to consumption Despite difference in absolute values, trends are generally similar. Structural uncertainties
  19. 19. @Peters_Glen Policy relevance
  20. 20. @Peters_Glen Carbon Footprints
  21. 21. @Peters_Glen • Context (global) – Unharmonised global policy, carbon leakage, competitiveness – Not big changes in the Nordics (net importers, but relatively stable) • Policies – Consumption-based target, border carbon adjustments • Slight improvement in efficiency, effectiveness, but at the cost of equity • Need financial transfers to offset inequities (could do along trade flows) – Consumer policies • Labels, standards, nudges, information, reporting, etc • Uncertain impact at individual and macro level • Can help, but probably not sufficient levers to signficantly effect macro level? Carbon Footprints
  22. 22. @Peters_Glen Land & Water Footprints
  23. 23. @Peters_Glen Land & Water Footprints
  24. 24. @Peters_Glen • Context (local) – Water/land ‘scarcity’, more a question of degradation – Impacts very local (water basin, converted land) – Who decides context (local or global citizens) • Policies – Difficult to generalize (Norway is water rich, but not “productive”) – Generally policy focused on (household, industry) consumers • Product specific (less meat good for land, water, health, climate) • Impact specific (restrictions on products from sensitive areas) – Technology or yield improvements Land & Water Footprints
  25. 25. @Peters_Glen Material Footprints
  26. 26. @Peters_Glen • Context (local) – Resource efficiency and security – Often not environmentally focussed (unless waste flows) • Policies – Need to seperate materials (too much context lost in aggregation) – Consumer and industry policies (consume less of X, Y, and Z) – Role of construction activities important Material Footprints
  27. 27. @Peters_Glen Policy applications
  28. 28. @Peters_Glen • What is the policy objective? – Paris Agreement (clear) – Materials, land, water, etc (resource efficiency, security?) • What is the role of the environmental footprint? – Most impacts are domestic (in most cases) – What is advantage in a consumption (or trade) policy? – Differentiate policy on domestic versus on imported? • What is the confidence in the estimates? – The policy needs sufficiently accurate indicators Three framing issues
  29. 29. @Peters_Glen • Footprints useful, but perhaps not sufficient to implement • Quality – Independent data sets are broadly “consistent”, but differences large • Conflicting data – Data sets are conflicting, and harmonization required • Aggregation and targeting – Country and broad sector level, ok. Detailed results more uncertain. • Interpretation – Footprints embody a variety of issues, making interpretation difficult Uncertainty
  30. 30. @Peters_Glen • Carbon, climate – Context and motivation clear – Unclear that consumption policies justify added complexity • Materials, land, water, … – Unclear context and motivation – Broad conclusions can be made (e.g., reduce consumption) – But specifics matter (which water basin has a scarcity issue) • Resource efficiency – May be best to modify indicators to suit policy application Policy
  31. 31. @Peters_Glen • Tracking – Value in tracking progress, improved understanding of global systems – Prepares for potential policy applications • Methodologies – Considerable progress has been made in last 10 years – Knowledge gaps in reconciling data, method choices, updating, … • Policy context – In past driven by researchers (“hey, look at my results”) – In future, need motivation from policy – What problems need to be solved? Are footprints the answer? Future perspectives
  32. 32. @Peters_Glen Peters_Glen cicerosenterforklimaforskning Glen Peters