Beyond the borders – burdens of Swedish food consumption due to agrochemicals, greenhouse gases and land-use change
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of Cleaner Production. 2019, 214 644-652. 10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.12.313
Sweden's environmental policy aims to solve domestic environmental problems without increasing environmental and health impacts overseas. Realizing this aim requires an indicator system with a consumption-based (or “footprint”) perspective that captures both local and global impacts and their development over time. In this paper, we present a set of novel footprint indicators to measure environmental pressures from Swedish food consumption. The indicators are calculated by combining data and statistics on agrochemicals and deforestation emissions with EXIOBASE3, a global Multi-Regional Input Output (MRIO) database with a unique and high level of product detail across countries. We estimate the use of pesticides and antimicrobial veterinary medicines associated with current Swedish food consumption and compare those footprint indicators with the EU-28. Carbon emissions from deforestation are calculated with a land balance model and included in the overall carbon footprint of food. We find that Sweden, with its large reliance of food imports, exert a significant agro-chemical and climate footprint overseas, mainly in the EU and Latin America. We point to a need for better data and statistics on the use of pesticides, veterinary medicines and agrochemicals residuals (especially in developing countries) as well as improved spatial data on agricultural activity to further reduce uncertainty in the environmental footprint of Swedish food consumption.