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Sustainability accounting and green accounting

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 February 2000

Department of Economics, McGill University, 855 Sherbrooke St. W., Montreal, Canada, H3A 2T7, Phone (514) 398–3660, Fax (514) 398–4938, e-mail


Theoretical issues arising in maximin and utilitarian programs are considered in order to shed light on the merits of various concepts of income and types of environmental accounting as guides for environmental policy. The accounting prices for sustaining an economy obey Hartwick's rule but are inconsistent with the principles of national accounting. Moreover, they would be formidably difficult to calculate. Green net national product is an approximate index of welfare in a utilitarian economy which maximises future discounted utility flows. These conclusions hold even if underlying conditions are non-autonomous.

JEL Codes: Q3, E2

Research Article
© 2000 Cambridge University Press

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I thank Brian Copeland, Ngo Van Long, Jeff Vincent, Yang Zhao and three referees for helpful comments on earlier drafts, and FCAR for financial support.