On the quest for a clean and sustainable environment, the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8 stipulates the need to reduce carbon emissions, decarbonize the energy system, improve energy consumption and ensure the attainment of sustainable energy. In the same vein, SDG 9 pertains to the prevention of environmental degradation, promoting biodiversity and preserving the ecosystem to support inclusive human and economic development. Given the hazardous impact of carbon emissions, if left unabated, and the benefits of preserving nature’s ecosystem, the motivation for this study hinges on analyzing factors that threaten a sustainable environment using two proxies of environmental degradation: carbon emissions and ecological footprint. With a battery of static and dynamic econometric techniques on a sample of 44 selected African countries from 1992 to 2016, findings reveal the following: (1) energy usage deteriorates the environment, and (2) urbanization has asymmetric effects on the environment. Controlling for per capita GDP, financial development and gross fixed capital formation, evidence suggests that per capita GDP has an asymmetric impact, financial development accelerates environmental degradation, while gross fixed capital formation intensifies a sustainable environment. Policy outcomes and implications for sustainability are discussed. • Various determinants of CO 2 emissions and ecological (EF) footprint are explored. • Financial development increases CO 2 emissions and EF. • Energy consumption adds to the EF. • Gross fixed capital formation exacerbates CO 2 emissions, but declines the EF. • Urbanization has asymmetric effects on the environment.

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