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Enhancing the assessment of critical resource use at the country level with the SCARCE method – Case study of Germany

Vanessa Bach, Natalia Finogenova, Markus Berger, Lisa Winter and Matthias Finkbeiner

Resources Policy, 2017, vol. 53, issue C, 283-299

Abstract: The demand for many resources has increased significantly over the last decades due to their growing importance for industrial and technological development. Thus, various methods were developed to assess availability constraints of resources in relation to their vulnerability within countries and/or sectors (criticality). However, these methods display several short-comings. Thus, the aim of the introduced approach is, to enhance the assessment of critical resource use on country level with the SCARCE method, by considering the two dimensions criticality (with the sub dimensions availability and vulnerability) and societal acceptance (with the sub dimensions compliance with social standards and compliance with environmental standards). For five of the 12 introduced categories measuring availability constraints the country specific import mix is used to determine availability constraints of resources individually for the country under consideration. These results can further be compared with global constraints (which are calculated based on global production data) to determine if the country under consideration performs worse or better than the global average. To measure social aspects the categories small scale mining, geopolitical risk and human rights abuse are introduced. Environmental aspects are considered within the categories sensitivity of the local biodiversity, climate change and water scarcity. Additionally, next to metals also fossil fuels are included allowing a direct comparison of both abiotic resources. The SCARCE method is applied for the case study of Germany for which criticality results are presented and their plausibility is validated. It is shown that for Germany tungsten is the raw material showing high risks in all considered dimensions excluding the sub dimension vulnerability. Its high availability constraints are defined by the categories political stability, primary material use and price fluctuations. Further, due to the countries tungsten is imported from (e.g. Bolivia), its compliance with social and environmental standards is low. To enhance the applicability of the SCARCE method, indicator results are provided for 40 resources to assess their availability constraints as well as their compliance with social and environmental standards.

Keywords: Resource use; Criticality; Availability constraints; Sustainable development (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Handle: RePEc:eee:jrpoli:v:53:y:2017:i:c:p:283-299