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Energy consumption, trade openness, economic growth, carbon dioxide emissions and electricity consumption: evidence from South Africa based on ARDL

Hasson, Ashwaq and Masih, Mansur (2017): Energy consumption, trade openness, economic growth, carbon dioxide emissions and electricity consumption: evidence from South Africa based on ARDL.

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Abstract

This paper undertakes to investigate the interplay between economic growth, energy consumption, electricity consumption, carbon emission and trade by employing recent South African trade and energy data during the period from 1971 to 2013. South Africa is used as a case study given its status as perhaps the most developed country in the African continent with a very high energy consumption as well as its unique position in its current history where it relies on the somewhat antiquated coal industry to provide most of its energy as well as being one of its main imports. The effect of trade openness on environmental conditions has spawned a great deal of controversy in the current energy economics literature. Although research on the relationship between energy consumption, carbon emissions and economic growth are quite prevalent, no study to our knowledge specifically addresses the role that South Africa’s trade plays in this context. The ARDL bounds testing approach to cointegration has been used to test the long run relationship among the variables, while short run dynamics has been investigated by applying error correction method (ECM). The main finding of interest in this paper is that a positive relationship exists between energy consumption and economic growth. However, it seems the results suggest that electricity prices have a negative impact on economic growth. The results further evidenced that trade openness and electricity are leading variables, while the rest are lagging. Furthermore, our results demonstrate trade reduces overall pollutions caused by carbon emission, thus it improves environmental quality by contracting the growth of energy pollutants. Our empirical results are consistent with the existence of environmental Kuznets curve. It is, thus, imperative for policymakers to take better care of these two exogenous variables that will have a profound effect on the country’s economy as a whole. The policymakers should make decision on GDP based on trade openness because changes in trade openness will have impact on GDP, as trade is a leading variable.

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