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The Environmental Kuznets Curve: A Methodological Artefact?

Abstract

A number of recent publications claims to have demonstrated that the pattern of environmental pollution in growing economies follows an inverted parabolic curve, called the environmental Kuznets curve. It is suggested that the Kuznets curve is a logical consequence of the kind of measurement but with little meaning for future, efficiency based environmental policies. Environmental Space as an measure of environmental pressures is introduced, accounting for the total use of energy, materials and land. Based on this, the trends in overall resource consumption are described. No indication of an environmental Kuznets curve can be found for the total resource throughput in several countries.

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Spangenberg, J.H. The Environmental Kuznets Curve: A Methodological Artefact?. Population and Environment 23, 175–191 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1012827703885

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  • environmental Kuznets curve
  • environmental policies
  • environmental space
  • material flow accounting
  • consumption patterns