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Unraveling the Nexus: Exploring the Pathways to Combined Resource Use

Font Vivanco, D; Wang, R; Deetman, S; Hertwich, E; (2019) Unraveling the Nexus: Exploring the Pathways to Combined Resource Use. Journal of Industrial Ecology , 23 (1) pp. 241-252. 10.1111/jiec.12733. Green open access

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In response to the unprecedented decline in global natural resource endowments, the so-called nexus framework is gaining increasing influence on resource management practices. In this research, we approach the resource nexus through the concept of nexus pathways. Nexus pathways are configurations that resource flows follow along supply chains leading to the combined use of two or more resources. Three general types of pathways are identified: direct (on-site use), dependent (one-way supply chains), and interdependent (supply-chain feedbacks). We quantify and compare each pathway by means of multiregional input-output analysis and structural path analysis, and apply this approach to a comparative case study on the water-energy nexus (WEN) in the United States and China. Interdependencies or feedbacks are generally thought to be relevant for the WEN, especially between water and energy sectors. Our economy-wide analysis for both countries indicates, however, that feedbacks neither play an important role in the WEN nor substantially take place between water and energy sectors. The most important feedbacks contribute to less than 1% of total resource use, and these take place mostly between manufacturing sectors. Overall, the studied WEN is mostly driven by dependent pathways and, to a lesser degree, direct resource use. Comparative differences between the two countries are largely explained by differences in economic structure, technology, and resource endowments. Our findings call into question current research and policy focus and suggest greater attention to less complex, but more determining, pathways leading to absolute resource use.

Type: Article
Title: Unraveling the Nexus: Exploring the Pathways to Combined Resource Use
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/jiec.12733
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/jiec.12733
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10047785
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