Main content area

Revisiting Environmental Kuznets Curves through the energy price lens

Rodríguez, Miguel, Pena-Boquete, Yolanda, Pardo-Fernández, Juan Carlos
Energy Policy 2016 v.95 pp. 32-41
carbon dioxide, carbon markets, climate, developed countries, econometrics, energy, energy costs, energy policy, greenhouse gas emissions, gross domestic product, prices
The goal of this paper is to provide new insights to elucidate the inconclusive results from the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) empirical literature. For the first time in empirical literature, an econometric analysis includes the relative prices for several energy sources. The paper provides strong evidence on the relevance of energy prices to CO2 emissions. Accordingly, one reason for the lack of agreement in the EKC literature may be the absence of energy prices in empirical exercises. The presence of relative energy price changes in the econometric specification confirms a monotonic and positive relationship between CO2 and gross domestic product (GDP). Therefore, we may conclude that there is a decoupling process but without reaching any turning point on that relationship. The policy implications are straightforward. Direct climate action by policy makers is required to break the positive relationship between CO2 and GDP. That conclusion has been reinforced by the reduction of energy prices since the middle of 2014. Otherwise, the trend in energy prices may reverse the relative decarbonisation processes accounted for in recent years in major developed countries.