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The Political Economy Of Green Growth: Cases From Southern Africa

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  • Danielle Resnick
  • Finn Tarp
  • James Thurlow

Abstract

SUMMARY 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 article, 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 by using case studies of Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa, which are engaged in development strategies that involve inorganic fertilizers, biofuel 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 among the poor. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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  • Danielle Resnick & Finn Tarp & James Thurlow, 2012. "The Political Economy Of Green Growth: Cases From Southern Africa," Public Administration & Development, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 32(3), pages 215-228, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:padxxx:v:32:y:2012:i:3:p:215-228
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    1. 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, September.
    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. Hallegatte, Stephane & Heal, Geoffrey & Fay, Marianne & Treguer, David, 2011. "From growth to green growth -- a framework," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5872, The World Bank.
    4. Hiscox, Michael J., 2001. "Class Versus Industry Cleavages: Inter-Industry Factor Mobility and the Politics of Trade," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 55(01), pages 1-46, December.
    5. Pedro Sanchez & Glenn Denning & Generose Nziguheba, 2009. "The African Green Revolution moves forward," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 1(1), pages 37-44, February.
    6. Arndt, Channing & Benfica, Rui & Tarp, Finn & Thurlow, James & Uaiene, Rafael, 2010. "Biofuels, poverty, and growth: a computable general equilibrium analysis of Mozambique," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(01), pages 81-105, February.
    7. Dani Rodrik, 1996. "Understanding Economic Policy Reform," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 9-41, March.
    8. Minot, Nicholas & Benson, Todd, 2009. "Fertilizer subsidies in Africa: Are vouchers the answer?," Issue briefs 60, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    9. Winkler, Harald, 2005. "Renewable energy policy in South Africa: policy options for renewable electricity," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 27-38, January.
    10. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrea Bigano & Aleksander Śniegocki & Jacopo Zotti, 2016. "Policies for a More Dematerialized EU Economy. Theoretical Underpinnings, Political Context and Expected Feasibility," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(8), pages 1-22, July.
    2. Spalding-Fecher, Randall. & Senatla, Mamahloko & Yamba, Francis & Lukwesa, Biness & Himunzowa, Grayson & Heaps, Charles & Chapman, Arthur & Mahumane, Gilberto & Tembo, Bernard & Nyambe, Imasiku, 2017. "Electricity supply and demand scenarios for the Southern African power pool," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 403-414.
    3. Barbier, Edward B., 2016. "Is green growth relevant for poor economies?," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 178-191.
    4. Katharina Rietig, 2014. "Reinforcement of multilevel governance dynamics: creating momentum for increasing ambitions in international climate negotiations," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 371-389, November.
    5. Mark Purdon, 2015. "Advancing Comparative Climate Change Politics: Theory and Method," Global Environmental Politics, MIT Press, vol. 15(3), pages 1-26, August.
    6. Arndt, Channing & Davies, Rob & Gabriel, Sherwin & Makrelov, Konstantin & Merven, Bruno & Hartley, Faaiqa & Thurlow, James, 2016. "A sequential approach to integrated energy modeling in South Africa," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 161(C), pages 591-599.
    7. Alton, Theresa & Arndt, Channing & Davies, Rob & Hartley, Faaiqa & Makrelov, Konstantin & Thurlow, James & Ubogu, Dumebi, 2014. "Introducing carbon taxes in South Africa," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 344-354.
    8. repec:bpj:jossai:v:3:y:2015:i:5:p:451-462:n:6 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Sudo, Tomonori, 2016. "On the Concept of Green Growth and the Role of Policy and Public Finance," Working Papers 118, JICA Research Institute.
    10. Tim Forsyth & Les Levidow, 2015. "An Ontological Politics of Comparative Environmental Analysis: The Green Economy and Local Diversity," Global Environmental Politics, MIT Press, vol. 15(3), pages 140-151, August.
    11. Arndt, Channing & Davies, Rob & Gabriel, Sherwin & Makrelov, Konstantin & Merven, Bruno, 2014. "An integrated approach to modelling energy policy in South Africa: Evaluating carbon taxes and electricity import restrictions," WIDER Working Paper Series 135, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    12. Ho, Mun & Wang, Zhongmin, 2014. "Green Growth (for China): A Literature Review," Discussion Papers dp-14-22, Resources For the Future.

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