Trade, Growth and the Environment

Brian R. Copeland, M. Scott Taylor

NBER Working Paper No. 9823
Issued in July 2003
NBER Program(s):   ITI   EEE

For the last ten years environmentalists and the trade policy community have engaged in a heated debate over the environmental consequences of liberalized trade. The debate was originally fueled by negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Uruguay round of GATT negotiations, both of which occurred at a time when concerns over global warming, species extinction and industrial pollution were rising. Recently it has been intensified by the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and proposals for future rounds of trade negotiations. The debate has often been unproductive. It has been hampered by the lack of a common language and also suffered from little recourse to economic theory and empirical evidence. The purpose of this essay is set out what we currently know about the environmental consequences of economic growth and international trade. We critically review both theory and empirical work to answer three basic questions. What do we know about the relationship between international trade, economic growth and the environment? How can this evidence help us evaluate ongoing policy debates? Where do we go from here?

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9823

Published: Brian R. Copeland & M. Scott Taylor, 2004. "Trade, Growth, and the Environment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(1), pages 7-71, March. citation courtesy of

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