Is Free Trade an Obstacle to Carbon Neutrality? : How does Free Trade Affect the Environmental Footprint of Sweden, as a Part of the EU, in the Agricultural Sector?

University essay from Malmö universitet/Institutionen för globala politiska studier (GPS)

Abstract: This thesis investigates the environmental impact of the EU’s free trade agreements, to answer the research question of “How does Free Trade affect the Environmental Footprint of Sweden, as a Part of the EU, in the Agricultural Sector?”. A critical green theory framework was applied to conceptualize the international system and understand the hierarchical nature of global trade relationships. To answer the research question, data from the Swedish statistical administration (SCB), government reports by Swedish environmental and agricultural agencies, and reports by independent research organizations were analysed. It was found that Sweden’s imported agricultural goods have a significantly higher environmental footprint, and that the share of emissions in the Swedish agricultural sector that are from imports is increasing, as free trade makes environmentally harmful production abroad more profitable than sustainable production at home. This is in spite of an increasing share of food that is consumed in Sweden being domestically produced. It was found that, while the agricultural sector within Sweden and the EU is becoming more sustainable, the import of agricultural products from underdeveloped countries leads to an increase in overall emissions.

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