Consumption—including the provision of goods and services for consumption—has a wide variety of impacts on the environment: land is cultivated, energy resources exploited, and toxic substances emitted to water and air. To manage environmental impacts, it is necessary to conceptualize and often also to quantify them. Measures of environmental impacts have thus coevolved with the development of environmental regulation, and the number of measures has increased over time.


In the first decades of environmental regulation, the main concerns related to production whereas consumption caught little attention. The main exception was the energy issue where the energy crisis in the 1970s called for regulation of consumer behavior. This called for knowledge about the energy impacts of consumption and raised questions such as, Which parts of consumption are ...

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