This paper examines the nexus between the main forms of transport, related investments, specific air pollutants, and sustainable economic growth. The research is important since transport may act as a facilitator of social, economic, and environmental development. Based on data retrieved from Eurostat, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and World Bank, the output of fixed-effects regressions for EU-28 countries over 1990–2016 reveals that road, inland waterways, maritime, and air transport infrastructure positively influence gross domestic product per capita (GDPC), though a negative link occurred in the case of railway transport. As concerning investments in transport infrastructure, the empirical results exhibit a positive impact on economic growth for every type of transport, except inland waterways. Besides, emissions of CO2
from all kind of transport, alongside other specific air pollutants, negatively influence GDPC. The fully modified and dynamic ordinary least squares panel estimation results reinforce the findings. Further, in the short-run, Granger causality based on panel vector error correction model pointed out a unidirectional causal link running from sustainable economic growth to inland waterways and maritime transport of goods, albeit a one-way causal link running from the volume of goods transported by air to GDPC. As well, the empirical results provide support one-way short-run links running from GDPC to investments in road and inland waterway transport infrastructure. In addition, a bidirectional short-run link occurred between carbon dioxide emissions from railway transport and GDPC, whereas unidirectional relations with economic growth were identified in the case of carbon dioxide emissions from road and domestic aviation. In the long-run, a bidirectional causal relation was noticed between the length of the railways lines, investments in railway transport infrastructure, and GDPC, as well as a two-way causal link between the gross weight of seaborne goods handled in ports and GDPC.
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