3 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 5 (1995)
The dominant position of economists on trade and environment is that
increasing trade raises living standards, which provide the economic
basis for reduced pollution. Professors Chapman, Agras, and Suri
present a perspective that raises very different points. First, the dramatic
growth of manufacturing in East Asia for global markets is
based entirely (or nearly so) on the importation of processed
pollution-intensive raw materials. For a typical product in this global
system, a U.S. consumer purchasing an Asian product made from
imported resources benefits from a lower price and a cleaner local
environment; however, energy use and pollution associated with the
fabrication of the product occur in the country of origin of the raw
materials, and in the country where the final product is manufactured
Second, a modest logical exercise in economic theory shows that
the presence of trade between two regions with strongly different
pollution control practices can increase world total pollution.
Turning again to empirical data, the decline in energy per real dollar
of GNP in the OECD countries has been exactly offset by an increase
in energy intensity elsewhere. As a result, world energy intensity
(energy use per real dollar of GNP) has stayed almost constant, and
world energy use has been accelerating. Gross World Economic
Product per capita has not risen above its value of 14 years ago.
Actual data on global emissions are limited However, estimates
of three major world air pollutants show each with accelerating
growth. It is likely that actual data, if available, would show
exponential growth now for nuclear waste accumulation, sewage,
toxic metals and chemicals exposure, and other types of pollutants.
The empirical perspective we see is very different from the
commonly held viewpoint. In summary, on a global basis, the
international economy is characterized by increasing trade and world
economic product, stagnation in gross economic product per capita,
accelerating energy use, and exponential growth in emissions of
Chapman, Duane; Agras, Jean; and Suri, Vivek
"International Law, Industrial Location, and Pollution,"
Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies:
1, Article 2.
Available at: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/ijgls/vol3/iss1/2