Estimating the carbon emissions balance for South Africa

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The carbon footprint of materials and products is becoming an increasingly important factor in international trade. At present the carbon emissions balance of the South African economy is not well understood, especially the carbon emissions associated with imports and exports. An investigation was done of known economic input-output and life cycle analyses models addressing this shortcoming. The results reveal that South Africa is a major exporter of carbon; at least 129 per cent more carbon is associated with a dollar earned from exports than a dollar spent on imports, and the carbon footprint of the outflows on average, equates 37 per cent of the total carbon emissions of the economy. Such figures have serious policy-related implications in a future where international climate-change trade limitations will become stricter and binding.




Brent, A. C., Hietkamp, S., Wise, R. M., & O’Kennedy, K. (2009). Estimating the carbon emissions balance for South Africa. South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences, 12(3), 263–279.

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