Addressing the Carbon‐Crime Blind Spot: A Carbon Footprint Approach
15 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2017
Date Written: August 2017
Governments estimate the social and economic impacts of crime, but its environmental impact is largely unacknowledged. Our study addresses this by estimating the carbon footprint of crime in England and Wales and identifies the largest sources of emissions. By applying environmentally extended input‐output analysis–derived carbon emission factors to the monetized costs of crime, we estimate that crime committed in 2011 in England and Wales gave rise to over 4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents. Burglary resulted in the largest proportion of the total footprint (30%), because of the carbon associated with replacing stolen/damaged goods. Emissions arising from criminal justice system services also accounted for a large proportion (21% of all offenses; 49% of police recorded offenses). Focus on these offenses and the carbon efficiency of these services may help reduce the overall emissions that result from crime. However, cutting crime does not automatically result in a net reduction in carbon, given that we need to take account of potential rebound effects. As an example, we consider the impact of reducing domestic burglary by 5%. Calculating this is inherently uncertain given that it depends on assumptions concerning how money would be spent in the absence of crime. We find the most likely rebound effect (our medium estimate) is an increase in emissions of 2%. Despite this uncertainty concerning carbon savings, our study goes some way toward informing policy makers of the scale of the environmental consequences of crime and thus enables it to be taken into account in policy appraisals.
Keywords: carbon costs of crime, carbon emissions, carbon footprint of crime, crime prevention policy, environmental input‐output analysis, industrial ecology
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