Joint Production and Responsibility in Ecological Economics
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Joint Production and Responsibility in Ecological Economics

On the Foundations of Environmental Policy

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.
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Chapter 5: Joint Production and the Dynamics of Environmental Problems

Stefan Baumgärtner, Malte Faber and Johannes Schiller


∗ Up to now, we have developed some conceptual foundations for the concept of joint production. In this chapter, we shall change our perspective to investigate some structural implications of joint production for environmental problems. To begin with (Section 5.1), we adopt a static view, that is we focus on implications at a single point in time. In the subsequent Section 5.2, we shall take on a dynamic perspective, together with a long time horizon, and argue that the phenomenon of joint production together with the accumulation and degradation of stocks (cf. Chapter 4) leads to typical temporal patterns in the evolution of coupled ecological-economic systems over time. 5.1 5.1.1 The Static View on Joint Production Intended and Unintended Modifications of the Natural Environment The traditional notion of an ‘environmental problem’ denotes a phenomenon at the interface of the spheres of ‘the economy’ and the surrounding natural ecosystems. Human economic action leads to deviations of the ecosphere’s temporal development from its natural path because resource extraction, waste disposal, or other human influences change the affected ecosystems. From an economic perspective, such a deviation does not necessarily involve a value judgement. The deviation only becomes an ‘environmental problem’ once it is valued negatively by economic agents who are not compensated for this negative impact. In Part II of this book, we will discuss the problem of valuing joint production in detail. The negative valuation of an environmental impact by some agents is necessarily part of an environmental problem. So,...

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