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Sustainability, growth and development

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  • Charles Perrings
  • Alberto Ansuategi

Abstract

The Brundtland Report (WCED, 1987) encouraged the view that the main threats to the environmental sustainability of development are poverty-driven depletion of environmental resources in the developing world, and consumption-driven pollution of the biosphere by the developed world. Recent work on the empirical relationship between per capita GDP growth and certain indicators of environmental quality seems to contradict this view. Some indicators of local air and water quality first worsen and then improve as per capita incomes rise. This paper reconsiders both these findings, and the empirical relation between environmental quality and measures of poverty, consumption and human development. It finds that deepening poverty at one end of the scale and increasing affluence at the other both have implications for the environment. But these implications are different. Deepening poverty is associated with environmental effects that tend to have immediate and local implications for the health and welfare of the communities concerned. Increasing affluence is associated with environmental effects which are much more widespread and much longer-lasting. The environmental consequences of growth increasingly tend to be displaced on to others – either geographically distant members of the present generation or members of future generations. The paper argues that the relevant question is not whether economic growth has environmental consequences: it is whether those consequences threaten the resilience of the ecological systems on which economic activities depend. Since loss of ecological resilience implies that the economic activities concerned are environmentally unsustainable, it should be a major focus of strategies for sustainable development.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal Journal of Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 27 (2000)
Issue (Month): 1/2 (January)
Pages: 19-54

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Handle: RePEc:eme:jespps:v:27:y:2000:i:1/2:p:19-54

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Related research

Keywords: Environment; Resources; Sustainable development;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Kaika, Dimitra & Zervas, Efthimios, 2013. "The Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) theory—Part A: Concept, causes and the CO2 emissions case," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 1392-1402.
  2. Roca, Jordi & Padilla, Emilio & Farre, Mariona & Galletto, Vittorio, 2001. "Economic growth and atmospheric pollution in Spain: discussing the environmental Kuznets curve hypothesis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 85-99, October.
  3. Michael S. Michael & Sajal Lahiri & Panos Hatzipanayotou, 2008. "Integrated Reforms of Indirect Taxes in the Presence of Pollution," CESifo Working Paper Series 2276, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Christoph Lieb, 2004. "The Environmental Kuznets Curve and Flow versus Stock Pollution: The Neglect of Future Damages," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 29(4), pages 483-506, December.
  5. Daniel Fiorino, 2011. "Explaining national environmental performance: approaches, evidence, and implications," Policy Sciences, Springer, vol. 44(4), pages 367-389, November.
  6. Alberto Ansuategi, 2003. "Economic Growth and Transboundary Pollution in Europe: An Empirical Analysis," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 26(2), pages 305-328, October.
  7. David Maradan & Anatoli Vassiliev, 2005. "Marginal Costs of Carbon Dioxide Abatement: Empirical Evidence from Cross-Country Analysis," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 141(III), pages 377-410, September.

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