Assessing Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production

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Assessing Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production

Authors: Hertwich, E., van der Voet, E., Suh, S., Tukker, A., Huijbregts M., Kazmierczyk, P., Lenzen, M., McNeely, J., Moriguchi, Y.

Publication date: 2010


All economic activity occurs in the natural, physical world. It requires resources such as energy, materials and land. In addition, economic activity invariably generates material residuals, which enter the environment as waste or polluting emissions. The Earth, being a finite planet, has a limited capability to supply resources and to absorb pollution. A fundamental question the Resource Panel hence has to answer is how different economic activities influence the use of natural resources and the generation of pollution.

This report answers this fundamental question in two main steps. As a preliminary step it reviews work that assesses the importance of observed pressures and impacts on the Earth’s Natural system (usually divided into ecological health, human health, and resources provision capability). The report further investigates the causation of these pressures by different economic activities.