Cross-country polarisation in CO2 emissions per capita in the European Union: changes and explanatory factors
In this study, we analyse the degree of polarisation—a concept fundamentally different from that of inequality—in the international distribution of CO2 emissions per capita in the European Union. It is analytically relevant to examine the degree of instability inherent to a distribution and, in the analysed case, the likelihood that the distribution and its evolution will increase or decrease the chances of reaching an agreement. Two approaches were used to measure polarisation: the endogenous approach, in which countries are grouped according to their similarity in terms of emissions, and the exogenous approach, in which countries are grouped geographically. Our findings indicate a clear decrease in polarisation since the mid-1990s, which can essentially be explained by the fact that the different groups of countries have converged (i.e. antagonism among the CO2 emitters has decreased) as the contribution of energy intensity to between-group differences has decreased. This lower degree of polarisation in CO2 distribution suggests a situation more conducive to the possibility of reaching EU-wide agreements on the mitigation of CO2 emissions.
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