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Workshop on economy: environment statistics and potential calculation of an ecological and/or carbon footprints using input-output techniques held at the University of Strathclyde on 11 March 2008

Turner, K. and , Scottish Environment Protection Agency and , The Scottish Environment Protection Agency for submission to the (2008) Workshop on economy: environment statistics and potential calculation of an ecological and/or carbon footprints using input-output techniques held at the University of Strathclyde on 11 March 2008. [Report]

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Abstract

A workshop on economy environment statistics and potential calculation of an ecological and/or carbon footprint using input-output techniques was held at the University of Strathclyde on 11 March 2008. This workshop was commissioned by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) from Dr Karen Turner at the Fraser of Allander Institute, Department of Economics, University of Strathclyde, as part of the ongoing activity by the Scottish Government's Steering Group on Additional Measures of Progress to identify appropriate indicators of the sustainability of economic development in Scotland. The workshop focused specifically on what are referred to as 'consumption-based' indicators of sustainability and the importance of emissions and/or resource use embodied in local economic transactions and in interregional and international trade. In particular, it aimed to initiate discussion on what would be involved in the accurate and transparent measurement of consumption-based indicators such as ecological or carbon footprints for Scotland, drawing on developments in the academic literature. As explained in Section 1 of this report, the key development in the academic literature has been the application of input-output techniques to accounting for emissions and/or resource use. Therefore, the aim of the workshop was to consider how Scotland's existing strength in terms of input-output accounting for the economy can and should be developed to examine the environmental impacts of economic behaviour, in particular the use of input-output techniques in the attribution of emissions and resource use to producers and users as well as the identification of 'environmental trade balances' in informing climate change mitigation policies. In terms of the proposal that an economic-environment input-output accounting infrastructure should be developed for Scotland, workshop participants identified three key benefits: • Environmental input-analysis would facilitate decomposition of overall footprint indicators - i.e. using input-output multiplier analysis to examine the extent to which different activities contribute to the aggregate footprint measurement. • If an appropriate economic-environmental model can be built around the input-output accounting framework to permit impact analysis of alternative policy options, this will add to the analytical support available to policymakers. • Uses of an environmental input-output accounting framework are not limited to footprint calculations. Such a framework would facilitate the construction of a wide range of environmental indicators. Therefore, it is likely to represent 'good value for money' to policymakers. The presentations and discussions at the workshop suggest a consensus that adopting IO techniques to examine a range of measures under different accounting principles would constitute an appropriate, rigorous and transparent approach. However, input-output accounting is resource intensive. Therefore, further consultation is required in order to identify how the greatest value-added can be achieved in terms of current policy concerns and objectives, within the constraints of the availability and resource implications of appropriate input-output data.