The metabolic transition of a planned economy: Material flows in the USSR and the Russian Federation 1900 to 2010
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The study of long-term historical trends in material flows has gained some prominence in Ecological Economics since the first studies for Austria and the United Kingdom were published as part of a special section in 2002. This research expands the existing knowledgebase by presenting material flows for the Russian Federation and its predecessor states employing a standard accounting framework. The study of material flows for the Russian Federation provides an interesting and unique case of a planned economy and its transition to a market based form of economic organization. We show that in spite of considerable differences in the physical economy, the USSR developed material use patterns similar to that of Western industrialized economies. Lower levels of consumption were more than outweighed by inefficient production. The transition towards a market economy drove rapid improvements in resource productivity but also growth in metabolic rates. The results indicate that the transition to an industrial metabolic profile proceeds largely irrespective of economic and political conditions. An improved understanding of the evolution of socio-economic systems and the material flows that fuel them is increasingly relevant for designing new systems of production and consumption and facilitating a transition towards a more sustainable industrial metabolism.
Environmental Science and Management not elsewhere classified