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The environmental "trade balance" between Scotland and the rest of the UK

Ferguson, L. and McGregor, P.G. and Swales, J.K. and Turner, K. (2004) The environmental "trade balance" between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Discussion paper. University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland.

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Abstract

We use an inter-regional input-output (IO) and social accounting matrix (SAM) pollution attribution framework to serve as a platform for sub-national environmental attribution and trade balance analysis. While the existence of significant data problems mean that the quantitative results of this study should be regarded as provisional, the inter-regional economy-environment IO and SAM framework for Scotland and the rest of the UK (RUK) allows an illustrative analysis of some very important issues. There are two key findings. The first is that there are large environmental spillovers between the regions of the UK. This has implications in terms of the devolution of responsibility for achieving targets for reductions in emissions levels and the need for policy co-ordination between the UK national and devolved governments. The second finding is that whilst Scotland runs an economic trade deficit with RUK, the environmental trade balance relationship for the main greenhouse gas, CO2, runs in the opposite direction. In other words, the findings of this study suggest the existence of a CO2 trade surplus between Scotland and the rest of the UK. This suggests that Scotland is bearing a net loss in terms of pollutants as a result of inter-union trade. However, if Scotland can carry out key activities, such as electricity generation, using less polluting technology, it is better for the UK as a whole if this type of relationship exists. Thus, the environmental trade balance is an important part of the devolution settlement.