FEEM working papers "Note di lavoro" series
2001 .057

Embodied Pollution in Trade: Estimating the "Environmental Load Displacement" of Industrialised Countries

Authors: Roldan Muradian, Martin O'Connor, Joan Martinez-Alier
Series: Climate Change and Sustainable Development
Editor: Carlo Carraro
Type: Journal
Keywords: Environmental terms of trade,embodied pollution,ecologically unequal exchange,Environmental Kuznets Curve,international trade,BEET
JEL: Ecological Economics
Pages: 41, pp. 51-67
Date: 2002


The present paper sets out to aid in the development of "environmental load displacement" indicators. Developing the notion of the "environmental memory" of physical flows, we estimated embodied pollution in trade of 18 industrialized countries with a) the rest of the world and b) developing countries, from 1976 to 1994. We found that in the last years of analysis, total imports of Japan, USA and Western Europe have entailed, in general, larger air pollutant emissions than local exports. The balance of embodied emissions in trade (BEET) seems follow an inverted-U shape across time in Japan and Western Europe, and an N-shape in the US. In the period of analysis, Japanese and European environmental terms of trade with developing countries have "improved", whereas American environmental terms of trade with developing countries tended to "deteriorate" over time. Although there is no statistical trend between income and embodied emissions in imports in a cross-section analysis, there does seem to be a positive relationship between both variables at a national level.
The results suggest that, despite many shortcomings, this type of assessment of embodied environmental pressures in inter-country physical flows may shed useful insights on the international aspects of sustainable development.
Particularly, on the distribution of the environmental costs of trade and the relationship between economic growth and environmental degradation.

Download file
Download PDF file

FEEM Newsletter & Update

Subscribe to stay connected.

Your personal data will be processed by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei. – data Controller – with the aim of emailing the FEEM newsletter & Update. The use of Your email address is necessary for the implementation of the newsletter service. You are invited to read the Privacy Policy in order to obtain additional information about the protection of Your rights.

This Website uses technical cookies and cookie analytics, as well as “third party” profiling cookies.
If you close this banner or you decide to continue navigating on this Website, you express consent to the use of cookies. If you need additional information or you wish to express selective choices on the use of cookies, please refer to the   Cookie PolicyI agree