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Some Reflections On Climate Change, Green Growth Illusions And Development Space

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  • Ulrich Hoffmann
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    Abstract

    Many economists and policy makers advocate a fundamental shift towards “green growth” as the new, qualitatively-different growth paradigm, based on enhanced material/resource/energy efficiency and drastic changes in the energy mix. “Green growth” may work well in creating new growth impulses with reduced environmental load and facilitating related technological and structural change. But can it also mitigate climate change at the required scale (i.e. significant, absolute and permanent decline of GHG emissions at global level) and pace? This paper argues that growth, technological, population-expansion and governance constraints as well as some key systemic issues cast a very long shadow on the “green growth” hopes. One should not deceive oneself into believing that such evolutionary (and often reductionist) approach will be sufficient to cope with the complexities of climate change. It may rather give much false hope and excuses to do nothing really fundamental that can bring about a U-turn of global GHG emissions. The proponents of a resource efficiency revolution and a drastic change in the energy mix need to scrutinize the historical evidence, in particular the arithmetic of economic and population growth. Furthermore, they need to realize that the required transformation goes beyond innovation and structural changes to include democratization of the economy and cultural change. Climate change calls into question the global equality of opportunity for prosperity (i.e. ecological justice and development space) and is thus a huge developmental challenge for the South and a question of life and death for some developing countries (who increasingly resist the framing of climate protection versus equity).

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in its series UNCTAD Discussion Papers with number 205.

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    Date of creation: 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:unc:dispap:205

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    1. Martínez-Alier, Joan & Pascual, Unai & Vivien, Franck-Dominique & Zaccai, Edwin, 2010. "Sustainable de-growth: Mapping the context, criticisms and future prospects of an emergent paradigm," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(9), pages 1741-1747, July.
    2. Johannes Herold & Christian von Hirschhausen, 2010. "Hohe Unsicherheiten bei der CO2-Abscheidung: eine Energiebrücke ins Nichts?," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 77(36), pages 2-7.
    3. Rahel Aichele & Gabriel Felbermayr, 2011. "Carbon Footprints," Ifo Schnelldienst, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 64(21), pages 11-16, November.
    4. Ulrich Hoffmann, 2011. "Assuring Food Security In Developing Countries Under The Challenges Of Climate Change: Key Trade And Development Issues Of A Fundamental Transformation Of Agriculture," UNCTAD Discussion Papers 201, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
    5. Curtis, Fred, 2009. "Peak globalization: Climate change, oil depletion and global trade," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 427-434, December.
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    Cited by:
    1. Rabia Manzoor & Ghulam Samad, 2013. "The Sustainable Green Growth Perspective of Pakistan: In the Context of Environment Friendly Technologies," CEECC Working Paper 2013:04, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics.

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