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Trade, Technique and Composition Effects: What is Behind the Fall in World-wide SO2 Emissions, 1990-2000?


  • de Melo, Jaime
  • Grether, Jean-Marie
  • Mathys, Nicole Andréa


Combining unique data bases on emissions with sectoral output and employment data, we study the sources of the fall in world-wide SO2 emissions and estimate the impact of trade on emissions. Contrarily to concerns raised by environmentalists, an emission-decomposition exercise shows that scale effects are dominated by technique effects working towards a reduction in emissions. A second exercise comparing the actual trade situation with an autarky benchmark estimates that trade, by allowing clean countries to become net importers of emissions, leads to a 10% increase in world emissions with respect to autarky in 1990, a figure that shrinks to 3.5% in 2000. Additionally, back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that emissions related to transport are of smaller magnitude, roughly 3% in both periods. In a third exercise, we use linear programming to simulate extreme situations where world emissions are either maximal or minimal. It turns out that effective emissions correspond to a 90% reduction with respect to the worst case, but that another 80% reduction could be reached if emissions were minimal.

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  • de Melo, Jaime & Grether, Jean-Marie & Mathys, Nicole Andréa, 2007. "Trade, Technique and Composition Effects: What is Behind the Fall in World-wide SO2 Emissions, 1990-2000?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6522, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6522

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Brian R. Copeland & M. Scott Taylor, 2004. "Trade, Growth, and the Environment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(1), pages 7-71, March.
    2. Jean-Marie Grether & Nicole Andréa Mathys & Jaime de Melo, 2015. "Unravelling the Worldwide Pollution Haven Effect," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Developing Countries in the World Economy, chapter 23, pages 581-612 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
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    Cited by:

    1. Cunha, Barbara & Mani, Muthukumara, 2011. "DR-CAFTA and the environment," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5826, The World Bank.

    More about this item


    decomposition; embodied emissions in trade; Environment; Growth; Trade; transport;

    JEL classification:

    • F11 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Neoclassical Models of Trade
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth

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