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Has the relationship between non-fossil fuel energy sources and CO2 emissions changed over time? A cross-national study, 2000–2013

Abstract

This study investigates the possibly changing relationship between non-fossil fuel energy sources (biomass, geothermal, hydro, nuclear, solar, and wind) and CO2 emissions over the temporal period 2000 to 2013. The results from two-way fixed effects longitudinal models demonstrate that the carbon elasticities of these energy sources change over time but not symmetrically. Wind’s association with CO2 emissions became increasingly negative after the Great Recession (i.e., suppressed emissions at a greater rate). Nuclear’s association with CO2 resembled a distorted U-shaped curve over time. Biomass’ elasticity fluctuated between positive and negative values. Solar and geothermal’s elasticity remained fairly consistent over the course of the analysis, and hydro’s elasticity increased over time but remained negative throughout the study’s temporal period. The study provides several tentative explanations for these findings. Overall, the results suggest there are various processes at play that influence an energy source’s relation to CO2 emissions.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    These models also control for GDP per capita, total population, urban population, trade openness, and fossil fuel production. The results for the full model are found in Supplementary Material Table 7.

  2. 2.

    Due to a reviewer’s request, t tests were conducted for the statistically significant coefficients to see if they were statistically different from one another. They are presented in Supplementary Material Tables 812.

  3. 3.

    Due to space constraints, the temporal elasticities for each energy source are presented in the same graph. However, the elasticities are estimated with a different sample and should not be compared to one another.

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Correspondence to Ryan P. Thombs.

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Thombs, R. Has the relationship between non-fossil fuel energy sources and CO2 emissions changed over time? A cross-national study, 2000–2013. Climatic Change 148, 481–490 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-018-2215-1

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