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A three-step strategy for decoupling economic growth from carbon emission: Empirical evidences from 133 countries

Shuai, Chenyang, Chen, Xi, Wu, Ya, Zhang, Yu, Tan, Yongtao
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.646 pp. 524-543
carbon, economic development, emissions, income
To decouple the economic growth and carbon emission has been considered imperative to promote low-carbon economy. Nevertheless, previous studies on decoupling analysis between economic growth and carbon emission were contextualized merely in individual countries rather than the globe, which are insufficient for developing the low-carbon economy as a global target. Carbon intensity (CI), carbon emission per capita (CP), and total carbon emission (TC) serve as three important indicators of the status of regional carbon emission, but only decoupling economic growth from TC was analyzed in previous studies. To close the two gaps, this study aims to investigate the global decoupling statuses of economic growth from not only TC but also CI and CP by using Tapio decoupling index. The decoupling statuses of 133 countries and income-level groups to which they are classified are identified using the data from 2000 to 2014. According to the results, it is observed that economic growth decouples from CI, CP, and TC in sequential order, which is called three-step decoupling. In the period, countries whose economic growth having decoupled from CI, CP, and TC, account for 74%, 35% and 21% respectively. Higher income-level group has the larger proportion of countries having reached their decoupling statuses. These findings may serve as valuable references for policy-makers to understand the current decoupling statuses and make three-step strategies if necessary towards the global low-carbon economy.