Linking Local Consumption to Global Environmental Impacts

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Award Year: 
Principal Investigator: 
Klaus Hubacek, University of Maryland
Kuishuang Feng, University of Maryland
Associated Program: 

Globalization increases the interconnectedness of people and places around the world through markets, flows of capital, labor, services, information, and human migration. In such a connected world, goods and services consumed in one country are often produced in other countries and exchanged via international trade. Thus, local consumption, in particular in urban areas, is increasingly met by global supply chains that often involve large geographical distances. As such, local consumption can have negative impacts on both the local and global environment, contributing to climate change, water scarcity, deforestation, and other land conversions, all of which impact important ecosystem services. In addition, the inequalities found in consumption can get translated into environmental terms: people in high-income countries maintain higher incomes and more resource-intensive lifestyles, while people in low-income countries often bear the environmental consequences.

To account for the global environmental impacts of consumption and global inequalities in wealth, we propose a global supply and value chain analysis. Such an analysis involves using local consumption data and global trade data at the sector level, along with environmental extensions. By analyzing global supply chains in the way we propose here, one can inform policy about the environmental impacts of the adoption of new technologies, proximity to infrastructure, shopping, recreation, and work, as well as policies that shape the consumption habits of individuals. Although research in this area has already begun, there are a number of areas where new research and theoretical guidance is needed, primarily through combining innovatively local and global datasets.

The goals of this workshop are to further refine and focus research and engagement strategies to:

  • create a collaborative network, involving researchers and NGOs, for developing a common framework addressing global trends in consumption and production, and how consumption and production impact the environment and society;
  • calculate the main environmental indicators (ecological, carbon and water footprints) for various scenarios;
  • synthesize local to global datasets and perform analyses on trade-offs and win-win strategies towards a low carbon future;
  • provide knowledge brokerage through providing research-based evidence to different stakeholders;
  • to determine the most appropriate topic and subset of participants from the overall pool for each workshop; and
  • identify target audiences and how best to present outcomes from the proposed project.
Giovanni Baiocchi, University of Maryland
Bhavik Bakshi, Ohio State University
Bin Chen, Beijing Normal University
Simon Choi, Southern California Association of Governments
Felix Creutzig, Mercator Research Institute
Faye Duchin, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Brian Fath, Towson University
Daniel Fiscus, Frostburg State University
Arne Geschke, University of Sydney
Shigemi Kagawa, Kyushu University
Roberto Korzeniewicz, University of Maryland
Keisuke Nansai, National Institute for Environmental Studies
Anand Patwardhan, University of Maryland
Christina Prell, University of Maryland
Laixiang Sun, University of Maryland
Naijun Zhou, University of Maryland
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