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Lower oil prices lead to increased CO2 emissions

Saturday, Mar 12, 2016,13:57 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

London | A decrease in price of oil leads to higher carbon dioxide emissions, according to scientists who studied the relationship between air pollution and economic development in Spain. Although the level of contamination rises during the first stages of a country’s economic development, it then starts to decrease as basic necessities are covered and an increased concern for environmental protection arises, said Manuel Cantavella, from the Jaume I University in Spain.

In Spain, it was not until the 1980s that the country joined the global campaign for environmental protection, researchers said. During those years, the percentage change in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions began to drop as Spaniards’ real income increased, Cantavella said. In order to understand the change in pollution in Spain, researchers have estimated what this curve would look like for their country with regard to emissions of carbon dioxide – a contaminant that is directly related to climate change.

To empirically compare the relationship between CO2 emissions and economic development, the scientists used the real prices of oil between 1874 and 2011 as an indicator. It is well known that an increase in oil prices may lead to a reduction in energy consumption, researchers said, adding that oil is the second most polluting fuel after coal. For this reason, and in light of the fact that Spain has always been a country that is quite dependent on oil, the researchers not only included the economic growth curve in their analysis of the effects of CO2 emissions, but also the curve on changes in the consumption of pollutant energy with regard to oil prices.

The study was based on the fact that Spain had imported the majority of the products made from oil. The scientists used the prices from international markets to realistically represent the price variations. This data was gathered from the Statistical Review of World Energy 2013. The results of the study have showed that a 1 per cent increase (or decrease) in oil prices has been responsible for a reduction (or rise) in CO2 emissions equal to about 0.4 per cent. The research was published in the journal Ecological Indicators.