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24 Jan 2018    Working Papers
Fernández-Amador, Octavio , Francois, Joseph , Oberdabernig, Doris , Tomberger, Patrick


The methane footprint of nations: Evidence from global panel data

WTI Working Paper 01/2018, by Octavio Fernández-Amador, Joseph F. Francois, Doris Oberdabernig, and Patrick Tomberger. This paper is forthcoming in Ecological Economics.

We develop a unique global dataset on methane inventories derived from production, final production, and consumption for 1997 - 2011. Anthropogenic emissions are quantitatively important for global warming and have increased about 25% from 1997 - 2011.

We analyze the drivers of methane emissions per capita, both economy-wide and across sectors, paying attention to the form of the relation between emissions and growth. There is relative decoupling between methane and growth, and the relationship is non-linear. The effect of economic growth on emissions is likely to worsen when moving from lower to middle levels of development, and only improves as countries reach high levels of income. There is substantial heterogeneity in this relationship at a sectoral level, and sectoral transformation accompanying economic growth also leads to increased emissions. Together, relative decoupling and sectoral diversity challenge the design and implementation of environmental instruments to mitigate methane emissions. Methane also poses challenges to the overall management of greenhouse gas levels.

The methane footprint of nations: Evidence from global panel data