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Many industrialized countries are net importers of embodied energy and emissions, while many developing countries are net exporters. We examine the role of specialization in driving these trade patterns by conducting a spatial index decomposition analysis on the embodied energy in net exports for 41 economies. The results reveal that industrialized countries have generally offshored energy intensive production, which many developing countries specialize in. We find that specialization, on average, makes the biggest contribution, accounting for roughly 50% of a country’s embodied energy in net exports. However, other factors, namely energy intensity and the trade balance, combine to make an equally important contribution. In summary, specialization, despite its significant role, is not the only cause of the embodied energy trade patterns observed between industrialized and developing countries.

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