Against the backdrop of piling environmental concerns in the modern era of globalization, this study aims to check the validity of the Pollution Haven Hypothesis (PHH) in Eastern European emerging countries and the relevance of globalization. The study targets to reduce the lack of consensus on the globalization-economic complexity-environment in European countries. Besides, we also intend to explore the existence of an N-shaped economic complexity-related Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) controlling for the bearing of renewable energy on environmental degradation. For analytical purposes, both parametric and non-parametric quantile regression approaches are employed. Overall, we find a non-linear relationship between economic complexity and carbon emissions, and N-shaped EKC is verified. Globalization and renewable energy consumption boost and inhibit emissions, respectively. More importantly, the results confirm the moderating role of economic complexity in neutralizing the carbon emissions-boosting effect of globalization.
On the other hand, the non-parametric findings show that the N-shaped EKC hypothesis does not hold for high emissions quantiles. Furthermore, for all emissions quantiles, it is found that globalization boosts emissions, economic complexity, and globalization jointly curbs emissions and renewable energy curbs emissions. Based on the overall findings, some vital environmental development policies are recommended. The conclusions support shaping policy options promoting economic complexity and renewable energy as key factors in mitigating carbon emissions.