Gail Cohen, João Tovar Jalles, Mr. Prakash Loungani, Ricardo Marto, and Gewei Wang
We provide a comprehensive analysis of the relationship between greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and GDP in China using both aggregate and provincial data. The Kuznets elasticity is about 0.6 for China, higher than that in advanced countries but below that of major emerging markets. The elasticity is somewhat lower for consumption-based emissions than for production-based emissions, providing mild evidence consistent with the “pollution haven” hypothesis. The Kuznets elasticity is much lower for the last three decades than for the three previous decades, suggesting a longer-term trend toward decoupling as China has become richer. Further evidence of this comes from provincial data: richer provinces tend to have smaller Kuznets elasticities than poorer ones. In addition to the trend relationship, we find that the Environmental Okun's Law holds in China.
Gail Cohen, João Tovar Jalles, Mr. Prakash Loungani, and Ricardo Marto
Recent discussions of the extent of decoupling between greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and
real gross domestic product (GDP) provide mixed evidence and have generated much debate.
We show that to get a clear picture of decoupling it is important to distinguish cycles from
trends: there is an Environmental Okun's Law (a cyclical relationship between emissions and
real GDP) that often obscures the trend relationship between emissions and real GDP. We show
that, once the cyclical relationship is accounted for, the trends show evidence of decoupling in
richer nations—particularly in European countries, but not yet in emerging markets. The picture
changes somewhat, however, if we take into consideration the effects of international trade, that
is, if we distinguish between production-based and consumption-based emissions. Once we add
in their net emission transfers, the evidence for decoupling among the richer countries gets
weaker. The good news is that countries with underlying policy frameworks more supportive of
renewable energy and supportive of climate change tend to have greater decoupling between
trend emissions and trend GDP, and for both production- and consumption-based emissions.