Linking Local Consumption to Global 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 translate 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 and social consequences. To account for the global environmental and social 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 and socio-economic extensions. By analyzing global supply chains, one can inform policies about resource implications and environmental and social impacts of consumption choices within geographical and socio-demographic contexts. 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 project are to:

  1. Create a collaborative network, involving researchers and stakeholders, for developing a common framework addressing global trends in consumption and production, and associated impacts upon environment and society;
  2. Synthesize local to global datasets and perform scenario analyses on trade-offs and win-win strategies regarding social, economic, and environmental impacts of household consumption for about 70,000 census tracts in the U.S.;
  3. Provide in-depth development scenarios and social and environmental implications using greater Los Angeles metropolitan area as a case study; and
  4. Provide knowledge brokerage to urban stakeholders and the wider public interested in sustainability issues.
Giovanni Baiocchi, University of Maryland
Bhavik Bakshi, Ohio State University
Janis Brizga, Green Liberty
Konstantinos Chalvatzis, University of East Anglia
Bin Chen, Beijing Normal University
Brian Fath, Towson University
Daniel Fiscus, Frostburg State University
Pan He, University of Maryland
Michael Humber, University of Maryland
Roberto Patricio Korzeniewicz, University of Maryland
Anand Patwardhan, University of Maryland
Daniel Moran, University of Sydney
JiYoung Park, SUNY Buffalo
Christina Prell, University of Maryland
Laixiang Sun, University of Maryland
Tetsuji Tanaka, University of Maryland
Zhan Tian, Shanghai Climate Center
Cole Walters, University of Maryland
Naijun Zhou, University of Maryland
Martin Baumann, Austrian Energy Agency
Faye Duchin, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Christian Kimmich, Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Luis Miguel, University of Valladolid
Safa Motesharrei, University of Maryland
Jordi Solé Ollé, The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)
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