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Exploring the nexus between economic complexity, energy consumption and ecological footprint: new insights from the United Arab Emirates

Marina Arnaut (Dubai Business School, University of Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
James Temitope Dada (Department of Economics, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria)

International Journal of Energy Sector Management

ISSN: 1750-6220

Article publication date: 2 December 2022

Issue publication date: 16 November 2023




Motivated by the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG-7: clean and affordable energy, SDG-8: sustainable economic growth, SDG-13: climate action), this study aims to investigate the role of economic complexity, disaggregated energy consumption in addition to economic growth, financial development, globalization and urbanization on the ecological footprint of United Arab Emirates (UAE).


This study adopts unit root tests (with and without a structural break), autoregressive distributed lag (ARDL) bounds test and dynamic ordinary least squares.


The results obtained from the ARDL model suggest that economic complexity (EC), nonrenewable energy and economic growth increase the ecological footprint in both the short and long run, thus deteriorating the environment. However, renewable energy and urbanization reduce the ecological footprint in UAE during the two periods, thus improving environmental quality. Globalization and financial development have different influences on ecological footprint during these periods. These findings are robust to other estimation techniques.

Practical implications

Based on these results, this study offers significant policy implications such as increasing renewable energy supply, particularly solar energy and aligning the product manufacturing structure and complexity toward producing environmentally friendly products which can be used to realize the nation’s agenda of reducing fossil fuels consumption to 38% by 2050 and achieving sustainable environment and growth.


This study provides an empirical attempt to investigate the influence of EC and renewable and nonrenewable energy on the ecological footprint of the UAE.



Arnaut, M. and Dada, J.T. (2023), "Exploring the nexus between economic complexity, energy consumption and ecological footprint: new insights from the United Arab Emirates", International Journal of Energy Sector Management, Vol. 17 No. 6, pp. 1137-1160.



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