The Environment Strategy for Scotland: Reducing Scotland's International Environmental Impact - Learning from International Best Practices

This report supports the research project ‘Delivering the Environment Strategy Outcome on Scotland’s Global Footprint: Evidence Base and Policy Levers’. It summarises examples of international best practice in relation to policy levers for achieving a sustainable global footprint.

2. Glossary

Decoupling (relative and absolute)

Relative decoupling refers to a decline in the ecological intensity per unit of economic output, e.g. resource impacts decline relative to GDP whilst it grows.

Absolute decoupling refers to when resource impacts decline in absolute terms. If absolute decoupling is to occur, then resource efficiencies must increase at least as fast as economic output and must continue to improve as the economy grows.


Offshoring refers to businesses based in one country but having their physical activities in another. This may have negative impacts, for example, work performed in the country of the activities may fail to meet the quality standards expected of a parent company based in the UK.

Transboundary spillover

Transboundary spillovers refer to the consequences, both positive and negative, driven by international trade and consumption.

Behavioural spillover

Behavioural spillovers refer to changes in specific behaviours and in related behaviours. Henn et al. (2020) identified at least two types of spillovers:

i) specific behaviours that can influence other behaviours; for example, consumers starting to buy “green products” could also start displaying other “pro-environmental” behaviours such as cycling or recycling (Lanzini & Thøgersen, 2014).



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