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Trade and the Greenhouse Gas Emissions from International Freight Transport

  • Anca D. Cristea
  • David Hummels
  • Laura Puzzello
  • Misak G. Avetisyan

We collect extensive data on worldwide trade by transportation mode and use this to provide detailed comparisons of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with output versus international transportation of traded goods. International transport is responsible for 33 percent of world-wide trade-related emissions, and over 75 percent of emissions for major manufacturing categories like machinery, electronics and transport equipment. US exports intensively make use of air cargo; as a result two-thirds of its export-related emissions are due to international transport, and US exports by themselves generate a third of transport emissions worldwide. Inclusion of transport dramatically changes the ranking of countries by emission intensity. US production emissions per dollar of exports are 16 percent below the world average, but once we include transport US emissions per dollar exported are 59 percent above the world average. We use our data to systematically investigate whether trade inclusive of transport can lower emissions. In one-quarter of cases, the difference in output emissions is more than enough to compensate for the emissions cost of transport. Finally, we examine how likely patterns of trade growth will affect modal use and emissions. Full liberalization of tariffs and GDP growth concentrated in China and India lead to transport emissions growing much faster than the value of trade, due to trade shifting toward distant trading partners. Emissions growth from growing GDP dwarfs any growth from tariff liberalization.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17117.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17117.

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Date of creation: Jun 2011
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Publication status: published as Cristea, Anca & Hummels, David & Puzzello, Laura & Avetisyan, Misak, 2013. "Trade and the greenhouse gas emissions from international freight transport," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 153-173.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17117
Note: ITI
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  1. Arik Levinson, 2008. "Technology, International Trade, and Pollution from U.S. Manufacturing," NCEE Working Paper Series 200802, National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revised Feb 2008.
  2. Cadarso, María-Ángeles & López, Luis-Antonio & Gómez, Nuria & Tobarra, María-Ángeles, 2010. "CO2 emissions of international freight transport and offshoring: Measurement and allocation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(8), pages 1682-1694, June.
  3. Ahuja, Vinod & Filmer, Deon, 1995. "Educational attainments in developing countries : new estimates and projections disaggregated by gender," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1489, The World Bank.
  4. Carlsson-Kanyama, Annika & Ekstrom, Marianne Pipping & Shanahan, Helena, 2003. "Food and life cycle energy inputs: consequences of diet and ways to increase efficiency," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2-3), pages 293-307, March.
  5. Jean Marie Grether & Nicole A. Mathys & Jaime de Melo, 2008. "Global Manufacturing SO2 Emissions: Does Trade Matter?," Development Working Papers 263, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
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