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A golden age of macro-economic statistics 2. Macro-based CO2 emissions.

Summary:
I love the national accounts (NA). The NA focus on the money-economy. Total wages (who pays, who receives), profits, imports, exports, consumption, bank credit, the value and ownership of fixed and financial capital and (on the other side of the sectoral balance sheets) debts. By focusing on different kinds of money flows and stocks and by tracking flows between sectors the national accounts enable us to map the relations between economic sectors like construction and industry (cement!) but also between spending categories like consumption and production as well as imports. ‘Input output’ and ‘supply and use’ tables enable an analysis of these ever changing relations. Even when the flows as presented in the national accounts are monetary, some tinkering with granular data on

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A golden age of macro-economic statistics 2. Macro-based CO2 emissions.

I love the national accounts (NA). The NA focus on the money-economy. Total wages (who pays, who receives), profits, imports, exports, consumption, bank credit, the value and ownership of fixed and financial capital and (on the other side of the sectoral balance sheets) debts. By focusing on different kinds of money flows and stocks and by tracking flows between sectors the national accounts enable us to map the relations between economic sectors like construction and industry (cement!) but also between spending categories like consumption and production as well as imports. ‘Input output’ and ‘supply and use’ tables enable an analysis of these ever changing relations.

Even when the flows as presented in the national accounts are monetary, some tinkering with granular data on goods and data on the amount of CO2 emissions per unit of monetary output in construction or agriculture or transport or retail or banking or cement production enable researchers to tie supply chain related emissions of certain goods – say: meat – to consumption of these goods. How much does producing a cow add to CO2 emissions, how much does slaughtering the said animal contribute and so forth. Regrettably, production of beef and cement, pivotal to our pattern of consumption pattern, is extremely CO2 intensive. Meaning that an increase in construction or the consumption of Whoppers will lead to an increase in CO2 production; the national accounts enable us to track this for the entire supply chain and a multitude of products at the same time.

There is quite some research on this. Look here for an article by Storm and Mir about production versus consumption based estimates of per country COD production. Look here for an U.S. international Trade Commission working paper by Wang, Meng and Peters about tracing CO2 emissions in international value chains. Look here for an article by Su and Ang about input output analysis of CO2 emissions in international trade. Look here for an article by Ravikumar, Zhang, Keolieian, Miller, Sick and Li about how to estimate the parameters needed to estimate CO2 production, in this case for the production process used to sequester CO2 production related to the production of concrete (sequestering uses an awful lot of energy…). I.e.: to estimate the parameters needed to make macro estimates. There is much, much more.

High quality integrated estimates of ‘macro-economic’ CO2 emissions, relating these to granular data on macro-consumption and production, are up and running. We do know what’s happening and changing and what to do. Eat chicken. Not beef. As even the production of even organic chicken (breeds of poultry fit for organical production grow slower) is much less CO2 (and methane) intensive than the production of beef. Ten times less.

Merijn T. Knibbe
Economic historian, statistician, outdoor guide (coastal mudflats), father, teacher, blogger. Likes De Kift and El Greco. Favorite epoch 1890-1930.

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