Richer and cleaner--At others' expense?
In rich economies emissions of many pollutants tend to grow at a slower rate than GDP. This could be a result of shifting comparative advantages. If so, net imports of dirty products to these economies will increase and rather than reduced, emissions will be relocated to other countries. In this paper we investigate if decoupling in a rich, open economy coincides with such pollution leakages abroad. Based on historical observations and model projections, we find little evidence to support this hypothesis. Historically, decoupling coincides with falling pollution leakages. Projections over a period of decades indicate a weakening of the decoupling, but that leakages will increase.
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