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Environmental poverty, a decomposed environmental Kuznets curve, and alternatives: Sustainability lessons from China

  • Liu, Lee
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    Amid increasing recognition of the importance of the environmental factor in understanding poverty and development, this article coins the term “environmental poverty” to refer to the lack of the healthy environment needed for society's survival and development as a direct result of human-induced environmental degradation. A decomposed environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) demonstrates that places (such as countries, counties, or cities) following the “grow first, clean up later” approach (or the first half of the EKC) may obtain economic gains accompanied by extreme environmental sacrifice, excessive social injustice, and income and environmental inequalities. The same place may include communities whose curves differ in shape. Some communities may prosper at the expense of other communities, which may fall into environmental poverty and eventually irreversible environmental degradation and economic failure. Places following alternatives or “flat EKCs” may be slow in getting out of economic poverty, but enjoy a healthier environment, equality in income and environmental quality, and social justice. Countries, especially developing countries, should aspire to sustainable alternatives.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S092180091100454X
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

    Volume (Year): 73 (2012)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 86-92

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:73:y:2012:i:c:p:86-92
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2011.10.025
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

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    1. William Harbaugh & Arik Levinson & David Wilson, 2000. "Reexamining the Empirical Evidence for an Environmental Kuznets Curve," Working Papers gueconwpa~00-00-07, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
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    3. repec:pri:cepsud:134chow is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Panayotou, Theodore, 1997. "Demystifying the environmental Kuznets curve: turning a black box into a policy tool," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(04), pages 465-484, November.
    5. Beckerman, Wilfred, 1992. "Economic growth and the environment: Whose growth? whose environment?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 481-496, April.
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    7. He, Jie, 2010. "What is the role of openness for China's aggregate industrial SO2 emission?: A structural analysis based on the Divisia decomposition method," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(4), pages 868-886, February.
    8. Chen, Shaohua & Ravallion, Martin, 2007. "Absolute poverty measures for the developing world, 1981-2004," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4211, The World Bank.
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    10. Tetsuya Tsurumi & Shunsuke Managi, 2010. "Decomposition of the environmental Kuznets curve: scale, technique, and composition effects," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 11(1), pages 19-36, February.
    11. Rezek, Jon P. & Rogers, Kevin, 2008. "Decomposing the CO2-income tradeoff: an output distance function approach," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(04), pages 457-473, August.
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