The purpose of this paper is to study reducing the variation of environmental footprint estimates based on multiregional input–output (MRIO) databases. Footprint estimates from various MRIO databases sometimes vary significantly. As a result, conclusions about the absolute levels or trends of a footprint may be inconsistent. The sources of these variations are attributable to three phases in the footprint calculations: differences in data preparation, MRIO database construction and footprint calculation.
This paper provides a literature overview and a breakdown of the computation of footprints based on MRIO database. Based on these insights, strategies that lead to lower variation in footprint estimates are formulated.
Convergence of footprint estimates require enhanced cooperation amongst academics, among statisticians and between academics and statisticians.
Reducing the variation in footprint estimates is a major challenge. This paper aims to contribute to this convergence in three ways. First, this paper provides the first overview of footprint work at statistical offices, government agencies and international organisations. These are the front-runners that may play a role in cooperating with academics (and other statistical offices) to resolve some of the issues. Second, a detailed analysis of the sources of the variation in estimates is provided. These problems are illustrated using examples from the various MRIO databases and the data of Statistics Netherlands. Third, strategies are discussed that might help reduce variation between footprint estimates.
Part of the research in this paper was done in the context of the e-Frame project (www.eframeproject.eu). Statistics Netherlands is grateful for funding of e-Frame through the European Commission’s FP7 program.
Hoekstra, R., Edens, B., Zult, D. and Wilting, H. (2014), "Reducing the variation of environmental footprint estimates based on multiregional input–output databases", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 325-345. https://doi.org/10.1108/SAMPJ-01-2014-0006Download as .RIS
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