Trade liberalisation, economic growth and the environment
This thesis analyses and quantifies the environmental impacts of trade liberalisation and economic growth. The history and development of the GATT/WTO's treatment of the environment is considered, together with the environmental implications of trade liberalisation in general. The thesis then considers the relationship between economic growth and the environment, particularly since economic growth is often claimed to be an environmentally damaging feature of trade liberalisation. The manner in which economists have treated the relationship between economic growth and the environment is examined and the relationship is then subjected to an empirical investigation. The thesis estimates the reduced form relationship between per capita GDP and a wide range of environmental indicators, using cross-country panel data sets and improves on the traditional methodology for estimating environmental Kuznets curves (EKCs). Results suggest that meaningful EKCs exist only for local air pollutants whilst indicators with a more global, or indirect, impact either increase monotonically with income, or else have predicted turning points at high per capita income levels with large standard errors - unless they have been subjected to a multilateral policy initiative. Two other findings are also made; that concentrations of local pollutants in urban areas peak at a lower per capita income level than total emissions per capita; and that transport generated local air pollutants peak at a higher per capita income level than total emissions per capita. The thesis also estimates the impact of the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations on a wide range of environmental indicators. The impact is estimated in terms of the composition effect and combined scale and technique effects associated with the Uruguay Round. Results suggest that in the developing and transition regions most indicators will increase as a result of the Uruguay Round, whilst in the developed regions three local air pollutants will fall and all others increase. Finally, policy implications are discussed.