Original Paper

Review of World Economics

, Volume 145, Issue 4, pp 713-729

First online:

Global manufacturing SO2 emissions: does trade matter?

  • Jean-Marie GretherAffiliated withUniversity of Neuchâtel Email author 
  • , Nicole A. MathysAffiliated withSwiss Federal Office of Energy (Berne) and University of Neuchâtel
  • , Jaime de MeloAffiliated withCERDI and CEPR, Départment d’économie politique, University of Geneva

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A growth-decomposition (scale, technique and composition effect) covering 62 countries and seven manufacturing sectors over the 1990–2000 period shows that trade, through reallocations of activities across countries, has contributed to a 2–3% decrease in world SO2 emissions. However, when compared to a constructed counterfactual no-trade benchmark, depending on the base year, trade would have contributed to a 3–10% increase in emissions. Finally adding emissions coming from trade-related transport activities, global emissions are increased through trade by 16% in 1990 and 13% in 2000, the decline being largely attributable to a shift of dirty activities towards cleaner countries.


Embodied emissions in trade Environment Growth decomposition Transport World trade

JEL Classification

F18 Q56