On the Foundations of Environmental Policy
- Advances in Ecological Economics series
18. Sulphuric Acid: Joint Externalities∗ 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...
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