Table of Contents

Measuring Environmental Degradation

Measuring Environmental Degradation

Developing Pressure Indicators for Europe

Edited by Anil Markandya and Nick Dale

Measuring Environmental Degradation is a unique book that provides a comprehensive yet concise overview of the key issues of environmental significance addressed as part of the Eurostat ‘Environmental Pressure Indicators Project’. The book is part of the ‘Towards Environmental Pressure Indicators for the EU’ (TEPI) series that has resulted from the project.

Chapter 21: Natural resources

D. Pearce

Subjects: environment, environmental sociology


D. Pearce 1. NATURAL RESOURCES AS A EUROPEAN PROBLEM Article 130r(1) of the Treaty on European Union calls for Community action to contribute to the ‘prudent and rational utilization of natural resources’, but nowhere defines what is meant by ‘natural resources’. In this chapter we take natural resources to refer to non-renewable resources (minerals and fossil energy), to renewable resources (forests, fisheries, wildlife, habitat), and to mixed renewable and non-renewable resources (soils, groundwater). Is there a Natural Resource Problem in the European Union? Minerals As far as minerals are concerned, it can be argued that there is no major issue to be addressed. This is because the available economic indicators of mineral scarcity suggest that there is no problem. Scarcity is measured by assessing whether or not there is a significant ‘scarcity premium’ in the price of the mineral resources. This scarcity premium is more usually known as the ‘rental’. It can be found by calculating the costs of replacing any given mineral at the time the supply of the mineral is expected to be exhausted. Table 21A1.1 of the Annex to this chapter reports scarcity premia for crude oil, natural gas, metals and minerals. In both absolute terms and relative to the figures for pollution damage, it can be seen that the figures are very small, indicating no serious scarcity issue. Fossil energy As far as fossil energy is concerned, the problems do not lie in the availability of energy but in two aspects of their...

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