Energy in Economic Growth: Is Faster Growth Greener?

>> Read SOAS University of London Working Paper

Abstract

An influential theoretical hypothesis holds that if aggregate productivity growth accelerates, then so does the decline in energy intensity. Whether faster growth is greener in this sense is crucial for modeling future growth and climate change mitigation, but empirical evidence is lacking. This paper characterizes the global, long-run historical relationship between changes in energy intensity and labor productivity growth rates. Basing estimates on an unbalanced panel of 180 countries for the period 1950-2014 and the world as a whole, it captures a significantly larger historical window than previous studies. The paper finds a stylized fact whereby the rate at which energy intensity changes is constant or even increases as labor productivity accelerates. Faster growth is not greener. This provides important new information for calibrating integrated assessment models, many of which make a green growth assumption in near term projections.

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