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Semieniuk, Gregor (2016) Fossil energy in economic growth: A study of the energy direction of technical change, 1950-2012. University of Sussex: SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit Working Paper 2016-11.

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Climate change mitigation challenges national economies to increase productivity while reducing fossil energy consumption. Fossil energy-saving technical change has been assumed to accomplish this, yet empirical evidence is scarce. This paper investigates the long-run relationship between the rate and direction of technical change with respect to fossil energy and labor in the world economy. Growth rates of labor productivity and the fossil energy-labor ratio are examined for more than 95 of world output between 1950 and 2012. The average elasticity of the energy-labor ratio with respect to labor productivity is close to one, implying highly energy-using technical change, but no trade-o between factor productivity growth rates. This stylized fact suggests the importance of a cheap, abundant energy supply for robust global growth, and a more important role for renewable energy. Integrated assessment models do not incorporate this restriction which may result in poorly speci ed baseline scenarios.

Item Type: Monographs and Working Papers (Working Paper)
Keywords: labor productivity; fossil energy productivity; energy-using technical change; decoupling; long-run trends; stylized fact
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Economics
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > Department of Economics
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2017 17:28

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