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Environmental factors in trade during the great transformation : Advancing the geographical coverage before 1950

Brolin, John LU and Kander, Astrid LU (2020) In Journal of Global History 15(2). p.245-267
Abstract

In the study of trade-embedded environmental factors (land, water, energy, or material flows), three conflicting interpretations prevail concerning what happened before 1950. The 'great specialization' narrative argues that trade served to lighten pressure on the environment by redistributing environmental services from where they were abundant to where they were scarce. The 'great divergence' sees an exploitative transfer from poor countries to rich and powerful ones or an environmental load displacement from rich to poor. The 'great acceleration' dismisses flows as insignificant either way. We review long-term national studies and find an almost exclusive focus on developed countries, mostly European and especially the UK, where more... (More)

In the study of trade-embedded environmental factors (land, water, energy, or material flows), three conflicting interpretations prevail concerning what happened before 1950. The 'great specialization' narrative argues that trade served to lighten pressure on the environment by redistributing environmental services from where they were abundant to where they were scarce. The 'great divergence' sees an exploitative transfer from poor countries to rich and powerful ones or an environmental load displacement from rich to poor. The 'great acceleration' dismisses flows as insignificant either way. We review long-term national studies and find an almost exclusive focus on developed countries, mostly European and especially the UK, where more systematic studies tend to support 'specialization' and/or 'acceleration'. By contrast, more qualitative studies on individual exports from developing countries often support 'divergence', but, since imports are excluded by design, this can never be demonstrated. We propose widening the geographical scope of long-term national studies beyond Europe and extending existing studies with bilateral trade, and suggest that 'developing country' trade be quantified according to existing methods of environmental accounting.

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organization
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type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
ecologically unequal exchange, factor trade, ghost acreage, global environmental change, globalization
in
Journal of Global History
volume
15
issue
2
pages
23 pages
publisher
Cambridge University Press
external identifiers
  • scopus:85090500373
ISSN
1740-0228
DOI
10.1017/S1740022820000030
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
a8ab90f5-363b-43a4-ac6e-8fb602082026
date added to LUP
2020-10-22 15:16:25
date last changed
2020-12-29 02:08:42
@article{a8ab90f5-363b-43a4-ac6e-8fb602082026,
  abstract     = {<p>In the study of trade-embedded environmental factors (land, water, energy, or material flows), three conflicting interpretations prevail concerning what happened before 1950. The 'great specialization' narrative argues that trade served to lighten pressure on the environment by redistributing environmental services from where they were abundant to where they were scarce. The 'great divergence' sees an exploitative transfer from poor countries to rich and powerful ones or an environmental load displacement from rich to poor. The 'great acceleration' dismisses flows as insignificant either way. We review long-term national studies and find an almost exclusive focus on developed countries, mostly European and especially the UK, where more systematic studies tend to support 'specialization' and/or 'acceleration'. By contrast, more qualitative studies on individual exports from developing countries often support 'divergence', but, since imports are excluded by design, this can never be demonstrated. We propose widening the geographical scope of long-term national studies beyond Europe and extending existing studies with bilateral trade, and suggest that 'developing country' trade be quantified according to existing methods of environmental accounting.</p>},
  author       = {Brolin, John and Kander, Astrid},
  issn         = {1740-0228},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {07},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {245--267},
  publisher    = {Cambridge University Press},
  series       = {Journal of Global History},
  title        = {Environmental factors in trade during the great transformation : Advancing the geographical coverage before 1950},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1740022820000030},
  doi          = {10.1017/S1740022820000030},
  volume       = {15},
  year         = {2020},
}