Trade and the greenhouse gas emissions from international freight transport

Anca Cristea, David Hummels, Laura Puzzello, Misak Avetisyan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Scopus citations


We collect extensive data on worldwide trade by transportation mode and use this to provide detailed comparisons of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with output versus international transportation of traded goods. International transport is responsible for 33 percent of world-wide trade-related emissions, and over 75 percent of emissions for major manufacturing categories. Including transport dramatically changes the ranking of countries by emissions per dollar of trade. We systematically investigate whether trade inclusive of transport can lower emissions. In one quarter of cases, the difference in output emissions is more than enough to compensate for the emissions cost of transport. Finally, we examine how likely patterns of global trade growth will affect modal use and emissions. Full liberalization of tariffs and GDP growth concentrated in China and India lead to transport emissions growing much faster than the value of trade, due to trade shifting toward distant trading partners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-173
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Environmental Economics and Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • International trade by transport mode
  • International transport emissions
  • World trade growth


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