© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.The present study attempts to analyse the relationship between the human development index, carbon dioxide, energy consumption, and economic growth. The purpose of this analysis is to provide policy implications for economic growth with minimum harm to the environment. To this end, the study employed panel quantile regression on a panel data for emerging economies between 1990 and 2014. The findings of quantile regression revealed interesting results. The environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) proposes an inverted U-shape found valid in the sample; the impact of energy consumption is found positive along with all levels of carbon emissions (CO2). Thus, both the existence of the additional hypothesis and the negative bilateral relationship between HDI and emissions indicate that economic development can have a key role in overcoming environmental degradation. In addition, the impact of trade and population is negative and positive, respectively. Findings of the human development index (HDI) revealed that energy consumption, population, and international trade have a positive effect, whereas carbon emissions have a negative impact on HDI. The one-way and two models, along with the fixed-effect and ordinary least square (OLS), also confirmed the robustness of the results. Lastly, policy implications based on findings are also discussed.