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.

Chapter 16: Chlorine: Innovation and Industrial Evolution

Frank Jöst and Georg Müller-Fürstenberger

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

Extract

∗ with Frank J¨st and o Georg M¨ ller-F¨ rstenberger u u 16.1 Introduction: Chlorine as a Key Substance In this chapter, we deal with the production of an important chemical substance of modern industrialised economies – chlorine in various forms and compounds. Chlorine in the colloquial sense is an ambivalent substance: On the one hand, the branch of the chemical industry dealing with chlorine is very significant in economic terms.1 On the other hand, many of the produced (and consumed) chlorinated substances are extremely hazardous if released into the natural environment. So, chlorine is an interesting substance for investigating the connection between industry structure and environmental problems. It is an instructive example of how the phenomenon of joint production links environmental degradation – and its temporal development – and the temporal development of production systems. In the following, we trace the history of the British soda and chlorine industry. We focus on the nineteenth century but also regard effects until the present. This historic development is a paradigmatic case for the interplay between the phenomenon of joint production and stock dynamics, which introduces time lags into the system’s reaction (cf. Chapter 4). The case instructively shows the role which an environmentally harmful and economically ambivalent joint output of an industrial process – chlorine in various forms and compounds – can play in shaping the development of a whole branch of industry over a century. It thus shows how the emergence of environmentally harmful joint products can pro∗ This chapter is based on...

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