Climate Change and the Built Environment in the Tropics – Is Carbon Enough to Assess Human Impact?

  • Robert ValeEmail author
  • Brenda Vale
  • Tran Thuc Han


The counting of carbon emissions has become relatively common but it does not reveal the full extent of the environmental impact of human activities, including the effect of the built environment. This article uses the Ecological Footprint concept to explore the effect of the growth-based current economic system on the natural environment. Economic and environmental comparisons are made between a number of “developed” and “developing” countries, revealing that many countries in the tropics have relatively low environmental impact compared to the “developed” world.. However current policies are tending to lead to more environmental damage. The paper uses examples from Vietnam to demonstrate the ways in which many current trends and policies in energy, housing, transport and food are leading to increased environmental impact. It concludes that it may not be possible to reduce impacts without changing the world's current growth-based economic system.


Ecological footprint Limits to growth 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Architecture and DesignVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Energy and Environmental Engineering Research Unit, Faculty of TechnologyUniversity of OuluOuluFinland

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