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Disaster Trade

Disaster Trade: new project launched by Dr Laurie Parsons

  • Date22 July 2020

Dr Laurie Parsons and team have recently launched the online component of a project exploring the intersections between our internationally connected economy of goods and commodities and climate change.


Disaster Trade explores the role of trade as a key contributor to climate change alongside investigating the degradation of local environments that occurs alongside this process.

As the project highlights:

“Supply chains look simple in theory, but the reality is far more complex, involving a whole range of actors beyond the key companies involved and the impacts of trade extend far more widely than is often appreciated. These secondary impacts of trade often aren’t fully understood in supply chain analysis, but can be extremely substantial. For every object we import, there is a three-dimensional embodied cost: carbon, local environmental and human.

“So the point then, is this: natural disasters are not natural. Far from it. Rather, when you see footage of floods, droughts, landslides, and houses destroyed by storms, remember that not only does trade contribute to the carbon emissions that make these events more likely, but also the local environmental and human conditions that make them more damaging and deadly. In many cases, therefore, as we import goods, we are effectively exporting disasters to the global South.”

The recently launched Twitter feed (@DisasterTrade_) and website represent an important opportunity to draw attention to these issues and to keep up to date with the findings of the research as it unfolds.

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