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Trade and the Greenhouse Gas Emissions from International Freight Transport

57 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2011 Last revised: 14 Apr 2015

Anca D. Cristea

University of Oregon - Department of Economics

David L. Hummels

Purdue University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Laura Puzzello

Monash University

Misak Avetisyan

Texas Tech University - Department of Economics and Geography

Date Written: June 2011

Abstract

We collect extensive data on worldwide trade by transportation mode and use this to provide detailed comparisons of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with output versus international transportation of traded goods. International transport is responsible for 33 percent of world-wide trade-related emissions, and over 75 percent of emissions for major manufacturing categories like machinery, electronics and transport equipment. US exports intensively make use of air cargo; as a result two-thirds of its export-related emissions are due to international transport, and US exports by themselves generate a third of transport emissions worldwide. Inclusion of transport dramatically changes the ranking of countries by emission intensity. US production emissions per dollar of exports are 16 percent below the world average, but once we include transport US emissions per dollar exported are 59 percent above the world average. We use our data to systematically investigate whether trade inclusive of transport can lower emissions. In one-quarter of cases, the difference in output emissions is more than enough to compensate for the emissions cost of transport. Finally, we examine how likely patterns of trade growth will affect modal use and emissions. Full liberalization of tariffs and GDP growth concentrated in China and India lead to transport emissions growing much faster than the value of trade, due to trade shifting toward distant trading partners. Emissions growth from growing GDP dwarfs any growth from tariff liberalization.

Suggested Citation

Cristea, Anca D. and Hummels, David L. and Puzzello, Laura and Avetisyan, Misak, Trade and the Greenhouse Gas Emissions from International Freight Transport (June 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w17117. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1861858

Anca D. Cristea (Contact Author)

University of Oregon - Department of Economics ( email )

1245 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403
United States

David L. Hummels

Purdue University - Department of Economics ( email )

West Lafayette, IN 47907-1310
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Laura Puzzello

Monash University ( email )

Dept. of Economics, Caulfield Campus
900 Dandenong Road
Caulfield East, Victoria 3163
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://users.monash.edu.au/~laurap/

Misak Avetisyan

Texas Tech University - Department of Economics and Geography ( email )

Lubbock, TX 79409-2101
United States

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