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The Political Economy of Green Growth: Illustrations from Southern Africa

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  • Resnick, Danielle
  • Tarp, Finn
  • Thurlow, James

Abstract

The concept of .green growth. implies that a wide range of developmental objectives, such as job creation, economic prosperity and poverty alleviation, can be easily reconciled with environmental sustainability. This study, however, argues that rather than being win-win, green growth is similar to most types of policy reforms that advocate the acceptance of short-term adjustment costs in the expectation of long-term gains. In particular, green growth policies often encourage developing countries to redesign their national strategies in ways that might be inconsistent with natural comparative advantages and past investments. In turn, there are often sizeable anti-reform coalitions whose interests may conflict with a green growth agenda. We illustrate this argument using case studies of Malawi, Mozambique, and South Africa, which are engaged in development strategies that involve inorganic fertilizers, biofuels production, and coal-based energy, respectively. Each of these countries is pursuing an environmentally suboptimal strategy but nonetheless addressing critical development needs, including food security, fuel, and electricity. We show that adopting a green growth approach would not only be economically costly but also generate substantial domestic resistance, especially amongst the poor.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER) in its series Working Paper Series with number UNU-WIDER Research Paper WP2012/11.

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Length: 21
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:wp2012-11

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Keywords: development policy; green growth; political economy; Southern Africa;

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  1. St├ęphane Hallegatte & Geoffrey Heal & Marianne Fay & David Treguer, 2012. "From Growth to Green Growth - a Framework," NBER Working Papers 17841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Schut, Marc & Slingerland, Maja & Locke, Anna, 2010. "Biofuel developments in Mozambique. Update and analysis of policy, potential and reality," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(9), pages 5151-5165, September.
  3. Arndt, Channing & Benfica, Rui & Tarp, Finn & Thurlow, James & Uaiene, Rafael, 2008. "Biofuels, poverty, and growth: A computable general equilibrium analysis of Mozambique," IFPRI discussion papers 803, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  4. Davis, Mark, 1998. "Rural household energy consumption : The effects of access to electricity--evidence from South Africa," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 207-217, February.
  5. Minot, Nicholas & Benson, Todd, 2009. "Fertilizer subsidies in Africa: Are vouchers the answer?," Issue briefs 60, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  6. Arndt, Channing & Makrelov, Konstantin & Thurlow, James, 2011. "Measuring the Carbon Content of the South African Economy," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  7. Winkler, Harald, 2005. "Renewable energy policy in South Africa: policy options for renewable electricity," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 27-38, January.
  8. Channing Arndt & Kenneth R. Simler, 2007. "Consistent poverty comparisons and inference," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 37(2-3), pages 133-139, 09.
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