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The impact of modern economic growth on climate change (Spain, 1860-2020)

19th National Competition for Economic Research Grants

Economic history

Senior Researcher : Juan Infante Amate

Research Centre or Institution : Universidad de Granada


The economic transformations of the last two centuries have enabled most of the world's population to reach unprecedented levels of well-being. However, the environmental impact (especially on the climate) of the resources on which this new development model is dependent make scholars question the model's future viability. As a result, one of the top goals in the contemporary political and academic agenda is the design of 'decarbonized' productive systems— i.e. systems that will allow us to maintain our well-being levels while limiting climate impact. Historical knowledge is key to better understand the dimension and causes of this phenomenon. Surprisingly, there is little research on the long-term evolution of the nations' carbon footprint, or the emissions generated as a result of their economic activity.

This limitation in turn prevents the main historical accounts from incorporating evidence and analyses about the impact of our economic activity on the climate. The goal of this research project is to provide the first long-term estimation of total greenhouse gas emissions—both territorial and consumption-based—for a national economy. For the time being, the project has focused on data mining from historical sources and preliminary data processing. In September 2021, we organized at University of Granada a workshop on Spain’s historical environmental change where we presented the preliminary results of the project. Throughout 2022 we plan to participate in different congress, including the congress of the Asociación Latinoamiricana de Historia Económica (March), the bianual meating of the Red Española de Historia Ambiental (May), the World Economic History Congress (July) and the conference of the Asociación Española de Historia Económica (Septembre). A paper is under review in Global Environmental Change and we expecte to submit a second one before the end of the year.


Scientific Production
Magazine Articles 2
Communications at national conferences 2
Communications at international conferences 2


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