DP6522 | Trade, Technique and Composition Effects: What is Behind the Fall in World-wide SO2 Emissions, 1990-2000?

Publication Date

12/10/2007

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Abstract

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.