Joint Production and Responsibility in Ecological Economics

Joint Production and Responsibility in Ecological Economics

On the Foundations of Environmental Policy

Advances in Ecological Economics series

Stefan Baumgärtner, Malte Faber and Johannes Schiller

This groundbreaking book takes a fresh look at how environmental problems emerge from economic activity and how they may be addressed in a responsible and sustainable manner. At its centre is the concept of joint production. This captures the phenomenon whereby several effects necessarily emerge from one activity and whereby human action always entails unintended consequences. This, according to the authors, is the structural cause behind modern-day environmental problems.

Introduction

Stefan Baumgärtner, Malte Faber and Johannes Schiller

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, ecological economics, environmental economics

Extract

The first part of the book analyses the phenomenon of joint production and its consequences for economy-environment interactions on a general and abstract level. Phenomena of the real world – the occurrence and consequences of joint production – are translated into the language of science. For that sake, we employ different disciplinary perspectives from the social and natural sciences, in particular from economics, system theory and thermodynamics. The chapters in this part thereby lay the conceptual foundations for the further analysis in the subsequent parts of the book. Chapter 2 introduces the general notion of joint production by reviewing different definitions from the economic literature. On this basis, we develop our own definition which is suitable for the purpose of an encompassing analysis of long-term economy-environment interactions. We also link the concept of joint production to a traditional analytical tool from economics, the concept of externality. This chapter develops the language in which we will discuss joint production and its consequences throughout the book. Using arguments from the natural sciences, in particular from thermodynamics, Chapter 3 justifies why joint production is ubiquitous, and, thus, why the concept of joint production is universally suited to the analysis of economy-environment interactions. Introducing a time-dimension into the analysis, Chapter 4 points to long-term evolutionary consequences of the phenomenon. The logic of the argument developed there is then applied to the dynamics of environmental problems in Chapter 5. 17