Measuring telecouplings in the global land system: A review and comparative evaluation of land footprint accounting methods

Bruckner, Martin and Fischer, Günther and Tramberend, Sylvia and Giljum, Stefan ORCID: (2015) Measuring telecouplings in the global land system: A review and comparative evaluation of land footprint accounting methods. Ecological Economics, 114. pp. 11-21. ISSN 0921-8009


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In an increasingly globalized world with more and more distributed international supply chains, sustainability studies and policies need to consider socioeconomic and environmental interactions between distant places. Studies of the global biomass metabolism investigate physical flows between and within nature and human systems, thus providing a useful basis for understanding the interrelatedness of changes in one place with impacts elsewhere. Various methodological approaches exist for studying the human-nature metabolism and estimating the land embodied in international trade flows, a core element of assessing telecouplings in the global land system. The results of recent studies vary widely, lacking robustness and thus hampering their application in policy making. This article provides a structured overview and comparative evaluation of existing accounting methods and models for calculating land footprints. We identify differences in available accounting methods and indicate their shortcomings, which are mainly attributable to the product and supply chain coverage and detail, and biases introduced by the use of monetary flows as a proxy for actual physical flows. We suggest options for further development of global land footprint accounting methods, particularly highlighting the advantages of hybrid accounting approaches as a framework for robust and transparent assessments of the global displacement of land use.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This work was funded by the German Federal Environment Agency under the Environmental Re-search Plan (UFOPLAN, project number 3711 12 102 2). MB and SG were in part supported by the EU FP7 project DESIRE (grant number 308552) and the EC DG Environment contract number 07.0307/2013/657610/ETU/B1.
Keywords: telecouplings / global land system / land footprint / physical flow accounting / material flow analysis / input-output analysis
Divisions: Departments > Sozioökonomie > Ecological Economics
Version of the Document: Accepted for Publication
Variance from Published Version: Typographical
Depositing User: Elena Simukovic
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2017 11:53
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2020 06:24
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