Decoupling of environmental pressure and economic growth: evidence from high-income and nuclear-dependent countries

Hsiao Tien Pao*, Chun Chih Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper proposes a three-step process, based on the definition of absolute decoupling (AbsDec), to analyze the role of nuclear energy in the absolute decoupling between environmental pressures (including Energy resource use and CO2Emissions) and Economic growth (3-E) during the period 1987–2016. First, we select the top four Nuclear-Dependent Countries (4-NDC), including France, Belgium, Sweden, and Switzerland, from high-income economies and the USA as a sample (i.e., 5-country). Second, we provide compound annual growth rate (CAGR) statistics for all relevant variables in each country. Third, we assess the Carbon Kuznets Curve (CKC) and investigate the dynamic interactions between 3-E by using Lotka–Volterra ecosystem model. For the 5-country, we find that the CAGR of GDP is positive, the CAGRs of CO2 emissions, CO2 intensity, and energy intensity are negative, the panel CKC exists, and the projected CAGRs of CO2 emissions are negative between 2017 and 2025. For the USA, a commensalism of energy-led growth and an amensalism of emissions-limited growth exist. For the 4-NDC, neutralisms between 3-E exist. The aggregated results indicate that the 4-NDC seem to have achieved an AbsDec between 3-E, the USA appears to achieve an AbsDec between economic growth and emissions while undergoing a relative, and perhaps absolute, decoupling between 3-E. The findings can infer that nuclear power is one of the most important energy sources for achieving absolute decoupling and genuinely sustainable development. The policy implication is that measures to reduce energy consumption and control CO2 emissions may not significantly impair economic growth in countries that rely on nuclear power.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5192-5210
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • Absolute Decoupling (AbsDec)
  • Carbon Kuznets Curve (CKC)
  • Emissions-Energy-Economy (3-E)
  • Lotka–Volterra ecosystem model (LV–ECOM)
  • Nuclear energy

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