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Pollution and International Trade in Services

  • Arik Levinson

Two central topics in recent rounds of international trade negotiations have been environmental concerns, and services trade. While each is undoubtedly important, they are unrelated. In this paper I show that the services-environment link is small, for two reasons. First, services account for only a small fraction of overall pollution. For none of five major air pollutants does the service sector account for even four percent of total emissions; for three of the five services account for less than one percent. Second, those service industries that do pollute are the least likely to be traded internationally. Those services for which the U.S. collects and publishes international trade data -- presumably those services that are traded internationally -- are less polluting than services for which trade data do not exist -- presumably because the services are not traded. Even if we limit attention to the services that are traded across borders, the service industries most intensively traded are the ones that pollute the least. The bottom line is simple. International services trade bears little relation to the environment, because services in general contribute relatively little to overall pollution, and those industries that are traded internationally are among the least polluting.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14936.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14936.

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Date of creation: Apr 2009
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Publication status: published as Arik Levinson, 2010. "Pollution and international trade in services," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 93-105, June.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14936
Note: EEE
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  1. Ederington Josh & Levinson Arik & Minier Jenny, 2004. "Trade Liberalization and Pollution Havens," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(2), pages 1-24, November.
  2. Arik Levinson, 2007. "Technology, International Trade, and Pollution from U.S. Manufacturing," Working Papers gueconwpa~07-07-05, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  3. Kahn, Matthew E., 2003. "The geography of US pollution intensive trade: evidence from 1958 to 1994," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 383-400, July.
  4. Gamper-Rabindran, Shanti, 2006. "NAFTA and the Environment: What Can the Data Tell Us?," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(3), pages 605-33, April.
  5. Runge, C. Ford, 1993. "Trade, Pollution And Environmental Protection," Staff Papers 14025, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
  6. Hettige, Hemamala & Martin, Paul & Singh, Manjula & Wheeler,David R., 1995. "The industrial pollution projection system," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1431, The World Bank.
  7. Cole, Matthew A., 2004. "US environmental load displacement: examining consumption, regulations and the role of NAFTA," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 439-450, April.
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