As explained earlier, it is not trivial to define, on the national level, indicators for natural resource use and consumption that would not be distorted by differences or changes in international trade. One way of consistently dealing with imports, exports, and domestic extraction on an equal footing has been proposed by Eurostat as RME.5 RME equals the upstream requirements of used raw materials (i.e., used extraction) of the imported and exported products6 (Eurostat 2001a). A proper calculation of RME requires an integration of material flow analyses and input-output analyses. Weisz (2006) provides a methodological suggestion for how this can be achieved. Similarly to what already exists in the field of energy requirement, international databases would have to be extended and adapted in a harmonized way to facilitate comparability of calculations.
RME of imports indicates the material extraction undertaken in other territories in order to produce and transport the commodities imported by the country observed. RME of exports expresses the part of DE and imports that is due to the provision of raw materials and commodities for export. Using RME, a new indicator called raw material domestic consumption (RMC) could be calculated (DE + RMEimp - RMEexp). Such an indicator definitely would measure the raw material requirements of domestic final consumption.
Likewise, an indicator called raw material trade balance (RTB), defined as RMEimp - RMEexp, could measure ecological terms of trade related to the use of materials standardized to a single system boundary definition (i.e., to the definition of used extraction). A positive RTB would indicate the extent to which the domestic final consump tion of an economy relies on the imports of raw materials. A negative RTB, on the other hand, would indicate the amount of raw materials that have been extracted from the domestic environment but are used to satisfy final consumption elsewhere, a phenomenon analogous to carbon leakage.
Was this article helpful?