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International Comparisons of Sectoral Carbon Dioxide Emissions Using a Cross-Country Decomposition Technique

Discerning which sources contribute most to differences in per capita carbon emissions and why presents a daunting task for analysts, since several underlying factors affect emissions from hundreds of end-uses. This paper provides details of an international comparison methodology and carries out the comparison on a number of International Energy Agency (IEA) member countries. These calculations show where differences in the components of emissions lead to large gaps among countries. The data, from national sources, are the most extensive and disaggregated ever compiled for this kind of international analysis. Overall, activity differences account for the largest part of the gap in per capita emissions among IEA countries. If we normalize emissions to GDP, then transport activity levels, energy intensities, and utility carbon intensity share about equally in explaining the differences in carbon/GDP ratios among countries. Most of the structural variations arise in the freight, services, and household sectors-sectors less sensitive to international competition than manufacturing.

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Energy Specializations: Energy and the Environment – Climate Change and Greenhouse Gases; Energy and the Environment – Environmental Market Design; Energy and the Environment – Policy and Regulation

JEL Codes:
Q54 - Climate; Natural Disasters and Their Management; Global Warming
Q56 - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
E60 - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook: General

Keywords: Carbon dioxide emissions, GDP, Kyoto Protocol, Decomposition Methods

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol22-No2-3

Published in Volume22, Number 2 of The Quarterly Journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.