Keywords: EKC, environmental Kuznets curve, economic growth, emissions, intensity of use indices, public goods, sustainable economy, sustainability, green convergence, environmental quality
Public goods, environmental quality and the EKC – the 'unsaid' of the intensity of use indices
The environmental Kuznets curve and the green convergence hypotheses postulate that economic growth and pollution may be decoupled. Their validity has been questioned from several perspectives. This study addresses, from the particular viewpoint of an economist, an additional (though obvious) issue that should be considered when dealing with the validation of these hypotheses, i.e. the public nature of environmental quality. Building on the theory of public goods, it cautions against the 'uncritical' utilisation of the intensity of use indices, which may lead to erroneous conclusions about the sustainability of an economy. It presents a review of the findings based on the intensity of use indices and demonstrates that, together with environmental reasons, there are economic grounds to warn against their utilisation. It also provides empirical evidence to show that improvement in the intensity of use indices does not necessarily imply better environmental quality.