The Changing Effect of Economic Development on the Consumption-Based Carbon Intensity of Well-Being, 1990–2008

Recent sustainability science research focuses on tradeoffs between human well-being and stress placed on the environment from fossil fuel consumption, a relationship known as the carbon intensity of well-being (CIWB). In this study we assess how the effect of economic development on consumption-based CIWB—a ratio of consumption-based carbon dioxide emissions to average life expectancy—changed from 1990 to 2008 for 69 nations throughout the world. We examine the effect of development on consumption-based CIWB for the overall sample as well as for smaller samples restricted to mostly high-income OECD nations, Non-OECD nations, and more nuanced regional samples of Non-OECD nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. We find that the effect of economic development on CIWB increased through time for the overall sample. However, analyses of the Non-OECD and OECD samples indicate that while the effect of development on CIWB increased from null to a moderate level for the Non-OECD nations, the effect of economic development was much larger, relatively stable through time, and more unsustainable for the OECD nations. Additional findings reveal important regional differences for Non-OECD nations. In the early 1990s, increased development led to a reduction in CIWB for Non-OECD nations in Africa, but in more recent years the relationship changed, becoming less sustainable. For the samples of Non-OECD nations in Asia and Latin America, we find that economic development increased consumption-based CIWB, and increasingly so throughout the 19 year period of study.

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Description

Recent sustainability science research focuses on tradeoffs between human well-being and stress placed on the environment from fossil fuel consumption, a relationship known as the carbon intensity of well-being (CIWB). In this study we assess how the effect of economic development on consumption-based CIWB—a ratio of consumption-based carbon dioxide emissions to average life expectancy—changed from 1990 to 2008 for 69 nations throughout the world. We examine the effect of development on consumption-based CIWB for the overall sample as well as for smaller samples restricted to mostly high-income OECD nations, Non-OECD nations, and more nuanced regional samples of Non-OECD nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. We find that the effect of economic development on CIWB increased through time for the overall sample. However, analyses of the Non-OECD and OECD samples indicate that while the effect of development on CIWB increased from null to a moderate level for the Non-OECD nations, the effect of economic development was much larger, relatively stable through time, and more unsustainable for the OECD nations. Additional findings reveal important regional differences for Non-OECD nations. In the early 1990s, increased development led to a reduction in CIWB for Non-OECD nations in Africa, but in more recent years the relationship changed, becoming less sustainable. For the samples of Non-OECD nations in Asia and Latin America, we find that economic development increased consumption-based CIWB, and increasingly so throughout the 19 year period of study.

Classification
Resource Type
Format
Subject
Keyword Sustainability Science, Carbon, Environment, Environmental Psychology, Environmental Sociology
Date Of Record Creation 2019-01-26 19:50:21
Education Level
Date Last Modified 12/28/2015 10:29
Language English
Date Record Checked: 12/28/2015 10:26 (W3C-DTF)

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