Shift of environmental burdens through international trade

Presented by ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

Human society is changing its environment to an extent which can negatively influence its future well-being. Policymakers ask for measurable indicators and targets in order to navigate their effort. However, policies are often focused on domestic territory, as a territory of influence. A substantial part of the human-environment interaction is hidden behind international trade and is therefore hidden to indicators focused on the domestic territory. Furthermore, targets focused on domestic territory may be reached via displacing environmental burden abroad. Impacts abroad are not only hidden to policymakers but also to final consumers who pull the production chains.

In this talk Jan Weinzettel will focus on multi-regional input-output method and its application on land and water use in agriculture. Water and land are both considered as renewable resources, but their overexploitation may have detrimental effects on ecosystems and biodiversity. International trade displaces about one quarter of their usage abroad, mainly from wealthier to poorer regions.

Jan Weinzettel is a senior researcher at the Charles University Environment Center (Prague, Czech Republic) and an associate professor at the Czech Technical University in Prague. His research interests cover indicators and methods of consumption based accounting in environmental sustainability, particularly life cycle assessment and environmentally extended input-output analysis. He has been involved e.g. in the development and calculation of the material footprint of the European Union, officially published by Eurostat under the heading Raw Material Consumption. He further focuses on agriculture and the displacement of land and water use by international trade and the associated environmental impacts.