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 18: Sulphuric Acid: Joint Externalities

Frank Jöst and Georg Müller-Fürstenberger

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


∗ with Frank J¨st and o Georg M¨ ller-F¨ rstenberger u u 18.1 Introduction Sulphuric acid is a key compound in the chemical industry. A worldwide production of 155.6 million tonnes per year (in 1997) makes it, in terms of quantity, the chemical industry’s single most important product (ESA-EFMA 1999: 6). Like the other case studies in this book, a study of sulphurous emissions and sulphuric acid offers important insights into how joint production links industrial structure and economic development on the one hand, and the dynamics of the natural environment on the other: • Joint products – sulphur dioxide and other sulphurous wastes and emissions – which originate from the industrial production of desired goods, may cause environmental problems (cf. Chapter 5). • The dynamics of economy-environment interactions are governed by various stocks. This leads to time lags between economic causes and environmental effects (cf. Chapters 4 and 5). • As there is a (limited) potential for productive use of the sulphurous joint products by processing them into sulphuric acid, they are not just ‘bads’, but they are ambivalent. This means, they may be positively and negatively valued, depending on the context in which they come into existence (cf. Chapter 8). • Joint production of different positively valued outputs may link different industrial sectors, which co-evolve as a result. This creates complexity in the structure of an economy (cf. Chapter 4). ∗ This chapter is based on Baumg¨rtner (2000: Section 2.3.3), Baumg¨rtner and a a J¨st (2000), Faber, J...

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