A Material History of Australia

16 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2011

See all articles by Richard Wood

Richard Wood

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Manfred Lenzen

The University of Sydney - Center for Integrated Sustainability Analysis (ISA)

Barney Foran

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: December 15, 2009

Abstract

This article presents an analysis of the material history of Australia in the period 19752005. The values of economy-wide indicators of material flow roughly trebled since 1975, and we identify the drivers of this change through structural decomposition analysis. The purpose of this work is to delve beneath the top-level trends in material flow growth to investigate the structural changes in the economy that have been driving this growth. The major positive drivers of this change were the level of exports, export mix, industrial structure, affluence, and population. Only improvements in material intensity offered retardation of growth in material flow. Other structural components had only small effects at the aggregate level. At a more detailed level, however, the importance of the mineral sectors became apparent. Improvements in mining techniques have reduced material requirements, but increased consumption within the economy and increased exports have offset these reductions. The full roll out of material flow accounting through Australian society and business and a systematic response to its implications will require change in the national growth focus of the last two generations, with serious consideration needed to reverse the current volume-focused growth of the economy and also to recast neoliberal and globalized trade policies that have dominated the globe for the past decades.

Keywords: industrial ecology, inputoutput analysis (IOA), material flow analysis (MFA), mining, resource use indicators, structural decomposition analysis

Suggested Citation

Wood, Richard and Lenzen, Manfred and Foran, Barney, A Material History of Australia (December 15, 2009). Journal of Industrial Ecology, Vol. 13, Issue 6, pp. 847-862, 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1783311 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1530-9290.2009.00177.x

Richard Wood

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) ( email )

Høgskoleringen
Trondheim NO-7491, 7491
Norway

Manfred Lenzen

The University of Sydney - Center for Integrated Sustainability Analysis (ISA)

School of Physics, A28
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Barney Foran

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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