Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Therese McCarty




environmental degradation, greenhouse gases, emissions


The emission of greenhouse gases is the primary source of environmental degradation leading to climate change. The gases released by one country create externalities that affect all other countries since the effects of pollution are not localized. Several international conferences have resulted in agreements aiming to hold countries accountable for reducing emissions. These conferences have been held with the expectation of limiting climate change to less than two degrees Celsius annual increase in global temperature. A visual depiction of this trend is featured in the Appendix. Before 2005, there were different, antagonistic schools of thought, resulting in failed consensus on how to handle these problems. The Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997, is widely recognized as a failure in its inability to lead to major reduction of emission. Its failure can be partly contributed to this debate among countries. The European Union had advocated for sharp reduction of emission from all countries while China, India, and Brazil claimed that reduction should be confined to the developed world (Brenton 2013). Their argument was that greenhouse gas emission was vital to their success in growing their GDP, as they are currently the largest developing economies, and do not want their growth to be restricted by these restraints.

This paper analyzes the measured change in emissions since 1990 across over 100 countries to determine how the GDP of a country in 1990 and the change of GDP since affect the change in emissions. The model controls for energy production and usage, and the changes of these numbers since 1990. All data are collected from The World Bank except oil production, which is obtained from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This analysis aims to contribute to research on the progress of limiting greenhouse gas emission and conversion to renewable energy sources. It also draws attention to the relationship between emissions and GDP as major emerging market economies are likely to be the largest source of future emissions. They can choose to develop using technologies that are more environmentally friendly than the technologies that have been used historically. As developing economies grow, there is expectation that emissions associated with this growth can be limited. Examining change in emissions since 1990 will allow us to see effects of the cultural change in awareness on environmental issues while also tracking the progress since the less influential Kyoto Protocol and the promising Copenhagen Accord.