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Economic Growth and Climate Change: A Cross-National Analysis of Territorial and Consumption-Based Carbon Emissions in High-Income Countries

Department of Sociology, University of Alabama in Huntsville, 344H Morton Hall, 301 Sparkman Drive, Huntsville, AL 35899, USA
Department of Sociology, Boston College, 531 McGuinn Hall, 140 Commonwealth Avenue, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2014, 6(6), 3722-3731;
Received: 26 April 2014 / Revised: 21 May 2014 / Accepted: 3 June 2014 / Published: 10 June 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment in Sustainable Development)
PDF [558 KB, uploaded 24 February 2015]


An important question in the literature on climate change and sustainability is the relation between economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions. While the “green growth” paradigm dominates in the policy arena, a growing number of scholars in wealthy countries are questioning the feasibility of achieving required emissions reductions with continued economic growth. This paper explores the relationship between economic growth and carbon dioxide emissions over the period 1991–2008 with a balanced data set of 29 high-income countries. We present a variety of models, with particular attention to the difference between territorial emissions and consumption-based (or carbon footprint) emissions, which include the impact of international trade. The effect of economic growth is greater for consumption-based emissions than territorial emissions. We also find that over this period there is some evidence of decoupling between economic growth and territorial emissions, but no evidence of decoupling for consumption-based emissions. View Full-Text
Keywords: economic growth; climate change; decoupling economic growth; climate change; decoupling
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Knight, K.W.; Schor, J.B. Economic Growth and Climate Change: A Cross-National Analysis of Territorial and Consumption-Based Carbon Emissions in High-Income Countries. Sustainability 2014, 6, 3722-3731.

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