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Why is the USA so energy intensive? Evidence from US multinationals in the UK

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  • Ralf Martin

Abstract

At present the USA is - in per capita terms - the top greenhouse gas polluter among the world’s major economies. This is mirrored by the high energy intensity of all sectors of the US economy including manufacturing industries. A potential explanation for the higher energy intensity are lower US energy price levels. However, common price elasticity estimates are not high enough to explain the observed differences between countries. Alternative explanations include firstly geographic or other locational differences and secondly firm specific technology differences between US firms and others. This study explores this latter possibility by comparing establishments of US firms in Britain with other comparable firms thereby ruling out locational difierences. The findings are that on average US firms are not more energy intensive when operating in Britain. However, US firms that have only recently entered the UK market are found to be significantly more energy intensive at an order of magnitude corresponding to the between country US-UK gap. This difference vanishes with increased duration of staying in the UK, however with a considerable time lag. This suggests firstly, that barriers to knowledge difiusion are an important concern and secondly, that the long term response to a sustained price increase might be stronger than common price elasticity estimates suggest. The study also provides, for the first time, estimates of energy price elasticities for the UK on the basis of representative plant level panel data for the manufacturing sector,

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Paper provided by Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in its series Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Working Papers with number 15.

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Date of creation: Jan 2010
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Handle: RePEc:lsg:lsgwps:wp15

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  1. Van Reenen, John & Caroli, Eve, 2001. "Skill-Biased Organizational Change? Evidence from a panel of British and French establishments," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/10093, Paris Dauphine University.
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  11. Roy, Joyashree & Sanstad, Alan H. & Sathaye, Jayant A. & Khaddaria, Raman, 2006. "Substitution and price elasticity estimates using inter-country pooled data in a translog cost model," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(5-6), pages 706-719, November.
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