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Green Growth: Economic Theory and Political Discourse


  • Michael Jacobs


The paper explores the concept of �green growth� as it has emerged in international policy discourse over recent years. Identifying the core meaning of the concept and sister terms such as �green economy�, it relates green growth to the prior concept of sustainable development. The paper distinguishes between a �standard� version of green growth which asserts the long-run economic benefit of environmental protection and a �strong� interpretation which claims, more boldly, that environmental policy can be a driver for growth. Three different forms of this claim are identified and the evidence for them surveyed. The first is a Keynesian argument for short-term �green stimulus� in times of recession. Second, a revision of standard growth theory identifies the contribution made to growth by investment in natural capital and the correction of a variety of market failures through environmental policy. Third, the theories of comparative advantage and long waves of capitalism emphasise the importance of technological innovation in generating growth. The paper offers some conclusions on the political economy of green growth and how likely it is to succeed in increasing the priority given to environmental policy.

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  • Michael Jacobs, 2012. "Green Growth: Economic Theory and Political Discourse," GRI Working Papers 92, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
  • Handle: RePEc:lsg:lsgwps:wp92

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Paul Lanoie & Michel Patry & Richard Lajeunesse, 2008. "Environmental regulation and productivity: testing the porter hypothesis," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 30(2), pages 121-128, October.
    2. Kenneth Gillingham & Richard G. Newell & Karen Palmer, 2009. "Energy Efficiency Economics and Policy," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 597-620, September.
    3. Joshua Graff Zivin & Matthew Neidell, 2012. "The Impact of Pollution on Worker Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3652-3673, December.
    4. Edward B. Barbier, PhD, 2010. "Green Stimulus, Green Recovery and Global Imbalances," World Economics, World Economics, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 11(2), pages 149-177, April.
    5. Bosquet, Benoit, 2000. "Environmental tax reform: does it work? A survey of the empirical evidence," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 19-32, July.
    6. Spencer, Thomas & Lucas, Chancel & Emmanuel, Guerin, 2012. "Exiting the crisis in the right direction: A sustainable and shared prosperity plan for Europe," MPRA Paper 38802, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Carlota Perez, 2010. "Technological revolutions and techno-economic paradigms," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(1), pages 185-202, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jakob Skovgaard, 2013. "The Limits of Entrapment: The Negotiations on EU Reduction Targets, 2007–11," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(6), pages 1141-1157, November.
    2. Newbery, David M., 2016. "Towards a green energy economy? The EU Energy Union’s transition to a low-carbon zero subsidy electricity system – Lessons from the UK’s Electricity Market Reform," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 1321-1330.
    3. repec:eee:ecolec:v:142:y:2017:i:c:p:81-90 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. 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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