Resource Footprints are Good Proxies of Environmental Damage

Steinmann, Zoran and Schipper, Aafke and Hauck, Mara and Giljum, Stefan ORCID: and Wernet, Gregor and Huijbregts, Mark (2017) Resource Footprints are Good Proxies of Environmental Damage. Environmental Science & Technology, 51 (11). pp. 6360-6366. ISSN 1520-5851

Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

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Environmental footprints are increasingly used to quantify and compare environmental impacts of for example products, technologies, households, or nations. This has resulted in a multitude of footprint indicators, ranging from relatively simple measures of resource use (water, energy, materials) to integrated measures of eventual damage (for example, extinction of species). Yet, the possible redundancies among these different footprints have not yet been quantified. This paper analyzes the relationships between two comprehensive damage footprints and four resource footprints associated with 976 products. The resource footprints accounted for >90% of the variation in the damage footprints. Human health damage was primarily associated with the energy footprint, via emissions resulting from fossil fuel combustion. Biodiversity damage was mainly related to the energy and land footprints, the latter being mainly determined by agriculture and forestry. Our results indicate that relatively simple resource footprints are highly representative of damage to human health and biodiversity.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding for this work was made possible by the European Commission (Desire project, number 308552).
Divisions: Departments > Sozioökonomie > Ecological Economics
Version of the Document: Published
Depositing User: Gertraud Novotny
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2017 13:30
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2019 10:51
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