(searched for: doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1118-72)
Published: 12 August 2021
Consumption, Status, and Sustainability pp 114-144; https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108874441.006
SSRN Electronic Journal; https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3800302
High levels of carbon emissions and rising income inequality are interconnected challenges for the global society. Commonly-applied linear regression models fail to unravel the complexity of potential bi-directional transmission channels. Specifically, consumption, energy sources and the political system are potential determinants of the strength and direction of the dependence between emissions and inequality. To capture their impact, this study investigates the conditional dependence between income inequality and emissions by applying distributional copula models on an unbalanced panel data set of 154 countries from 1960 to 2019. A comparison of high-, middle-, and low-income countries contradicts a linear relationship and sheds light on heterogeneous dependence structures implying synergies, trade-offs and decoupling between income inequality and carbon emissions. Based on the conditional distribution, we can identify determinants associated with higher/lower probabilities of a country falling in an area of potential social and environmental sustainability.
Social Indicators Research, Volume 155, pp 97-116; https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-021-02613-x
There is an ongoing need for indicators that balance social and environmental sustainability outcomes. The carbon intensity of well-being (CIWB) is a sustainability indicator that captures environmental impact and social well-being in a single measure. One of the benefits of this measure is that it can be applied across different scales and contexts to explore factors that might reduce the CIWB, leading to greater sustainability. We demonstrate the further utility of the indicator by analyzing CIWB in the United States at the state-level and take an intersectional approach, calculating CIWB by race and gender. We find income inequality contributes to larger CIWB for all groups, but the impacts are greater for blacks compared to whites and males compared to females. Economic growth is also associated with larger CIWB for all groups. These results suggest that to achieve more sustainable outcomes may require policies that address inequalities as well as broader changes to economies.
Journal of Economic Interaction and Coordination pp 1-26; https://doi.org/10.1007/s11403-020-00301-6
Adaptation against environmental degradation has the potential to generate further environmental pressures. Does this aspect of adaptation affect the inequality–environment link? To answer this question, we develop a one-sector and one-input model which integrates threats to social and environmental sustainability posed by feedback effects of agents’ adaptation strategies. We distinguish between income inequality and welfare inequality with the latter depending on environmental quality, leisure time, income level and allocation of income to consumption or adaptation. Despite its parsimony, the model describes the conditions for the existence of different inequality–environment dynamic regimes. The model confirms the standard view that environmental degradation exacerbates welfare inequality, but it also produces non-trivial and surprising insights. It illustrates that income inequality affects the type of dynamic regime followed by the economy. High-income economies and economies with high-income inequality are most at risk of following a pattern of maladaptive growth with increasing welfare inequality and environmental pressure.
Ecological Indicators, Volume 117; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2020.106687
Nowadays, cities host most of the world population. As a result of human activities within their boundaries, most greenhouse gases emissions, natural resources consumption and waste generation are concentrated in urban areas. For these reasons, studies focusing on assessing the sustainability of cities have increased in recent decades. Bearing in mind the three pillars of sustainability (social, economic and environmental), this study aims to evaluate the level of sustainability of 31 representative Spanish cities through multiple sustainability indicators, which have been aggregated into a composite sustainability indicator that is reported by a three-letter code. Thus, each pillar of sustainability is represented by a letter A, B or C in the three-letter code, so that the letter A corresponds to the best rate and C to the worst. Within the geographical and socio-demographic framework of Spain, the results show considerable differences between the cities in the south and the north of the country. Accordingly, most of the cities with the best sustainability scores according to the award of at least two A in the three-letters code are located in the north of the country. Examples of this category are Pamplona and L’Hospitalet de Llobregat (both ranked as AAA). Cities such as Murcia, Gijon, Badajoz and Huelva obtained the worst ranking with the CCC rating. For this group of cities, actions for the improvement of sustainability have been identified.
Ecological Economics, Volume 174; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2020.106665
A socio-hydrological model is used to forecast future conditions in a river basin arising from changes in climate and the economy in order to learn about macroeconomic conditions that would yield pathways for sustainable development and how they may be affected by changes in climate and the economy. The study uses a system dynamics model with endogenous social values and preferences and exogenous climate and economic drivers. Basin scale sustainability is defined as a function of economic growth, provision of environmental services and equality within the basin. The analysis reveals that a diversified basin economy is important to achieve sustainable development. Under current climate conditions, a higher level of diversification in the basin's economy increases sustainability. Higher current capital growth rates, e.g., >2% of the current rate, would also lead to more sustainable development of a kind that is less affected by the availability of water and robust to vagaries of climate change. The results suggest that policy-makers and resource managers should focus on measures to diversify the economy when it is thriving, but also consider the capacity of society to adapt to unpredictable shocks to the system.
Challenges, Volume 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe10010031
I have been involved in studying and working within what is now called the Anthropocene for almost 50 years, and in all that time, not only have we failed to make much progress, but the state of the Earth’s ecosystems has generally worsened. Yet somehow we must create a world in which everyone on Earth has good health and a good quality of life—a matter of social justice—while living within the physical and ecological constraints of the one small planet that is our home; this is the focus of the new field of planetary health. Our worsening situation is not due to lack of knowledge, science and technology; in broad terms, we knew most of the challenges and many of the needed solutions back in the 1970s. Instead, the challenges we face are social, rooted in cultural values, political ideologies, legal and economic systems, ethical principles and spiritual/religious beliefs. Therefore, we have to move beyond science and technology and address these broader socio-cultural issues by engaging in economic, legal and political work, complementing and supplementing ‘head stuff’ with ‘heart, gut and spirit stuff’, and working from the grass roots up.