- Impacts of economic growth on carbon footprints    click here to open paper content851 kb
by    Thomas, Stacey | Stacey.Thomas@sta.uwi.edu   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
This paper seeks to investigate the link between unregulated economic growth, and its impact on carbon emissions. It explores whether potential strategies exist to balance economy and environment in a developing state.
Trinidad is a Small Island Developing State and ranks third in the world with the highest carbon emissions per person at 35.51tones per person. The population is estimated at 1.3 million people, 50% of which live in urban areas. Three major cities are dispersed throughout the island in the north, south and central, all juxtaposed against heavy oil and light manufacturing estates. Urban planning has been ad hoc despite the existence of national physical development plans, with Governmentís thrust towards public housing initiatives and industrial development existing outside the realm of suitable planning standards. This has caused environmental problems for the country in the name of growth and development.

The primary human source of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere worldwide is from the burning of fossil fuels for energy production and transport, and Trinidad is no exception. The country has transitioned from an oil-based economy to a natural gas based economy, in 2007 alone, natural gas production averaged 4 billion standard cubic feet per day (mmscf/d). Further diversification into energy intensive industries such as steel, methanol and ammonia production has led to financial independence and prosperity for its citizens and ultimately the associated consequences, inclusive of increased consumption patterns. This is evident given statistics in private car purchase reaching alarming highs, with an excess of 20,000 cars being procured in 2008 alone.

Since the 1970ís carbon emissions have been steadily increasing, Trinidad went from being ranked 69th in 1971 to 3rd in 2008. This leads to the question of how sustainable is the economic growth of Trinidad in environmental terms. This paper seeks to investigate the drivers behind these high carbon emissions and discuss the potential strategies that can be adopted to balance economic growth, while reducing the carbon footprint.
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