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China’s Pursuit of Environmentally Sustainable Development: Harnessing the New Engine of Technological Innovation

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  • Wei Jin

    (School of Economics, UNSW Business School, The University of New South Wales and School of Public Policy and Management, Zhejiang University)

  • ZhongXiang Zhang

    (College of Management and Economics, Tianjin University)

Abstract

Whether China continues its business-as-usual investment-driven, environment-polluting growth pattern or adopts an investment and innovation-driven, environmentally sustainable development holds important implications for both national and global environmental governance. Building on a Ramsey-Cass-Koopmans growth model that features endogenous technological change induced by R&D and knowledge stock accumulation, this paper presents an exposition, both analytically and numerically, of the mechanism underlining China’s economic transition from an investment-driven, pollution-intensive to an investment and innovation-driven, environmentally sustainable growth path. We show that if R&D technological innovation is incorporated into China’s growth mechanism, then at some tipping point in time when marginal welfare gain of R&D for knowledge accumulation becomes equalized with that of investment for physical asset deployment, China’s economy will launch capital investment and R&D simultaneously and make a transition to a sustainable growth path along which consumption, capital investment, and R&D have a balanced share of 5: 4: 1, consumption, capital stock, and knowledge stock all grow at a rate of 4.9%, and environmental quality improves at a rate of 2.5%. In contrast, if R&D technological innovation is not harnessed as a new growth engine, then China’s economy will follow its business-as-usual investment-driven growth path along which standalone accumulation of dirty physical capital stock will lead to an more than 200-fold increase in environmental pollution.

Suggested Citation

  • Wei Jin & ZhongXiang Zhang, 2016. "China’s Pursuit of Environmentally Sustainable Development: Harnessing the New Engine of Technological Innovation," Working Papers 2016.24, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2016.24
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    Keywords

    Endogenous Technological Change; Sustainable Development; Economic Growth Model; China’s Economic Transition;

    JEL classification:

    • Q55 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy
    • Q43 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy and the Macroeconomy
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O44 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Environment and Growth
    • F18 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Environment

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