Sunday, 12 August 2012

Will climate change constrain China's development? Part 2: Green growth pathways

There are two key ways in which climate change will affect China’s development.  Firstly the impacts of climate change on China (such as increasing droughts and water shortages, increases in severe weather events and rising sea level, and the costs of air pollution) will affect China’s population and its economic development.  These effects were discussed in a previous post.  The second consideration is to how difficult it will be to shift China’s current economic model to one of low carbon development and the costs and benefits of doing so. 

China has developed very rapidly in a very resource intensive manner which has grown the economy and reduced poverty in China whilst simultaneously producing huge levels of pollution that are now having a substantial impact on the Chinese quality of life and a negative impact on continuing economic development.  China was able to borrow ideas for its development from both Soviet and western examples, and has followed a fairly familiar development path.  China has also borrowed the idea of “develop first clean up later”.  Given the dire state of the Chinese environment, and the global imperative to reduce emissions, this is unlikely to be a viable pathway for China.  But there are obstacles with Chinese characteristics in China shifting its economy to a low carbon pathway. 

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Will climate change constrain China's development? Part 1: climate impacts

Will climate change constrain China's development?  It's likely to do so in a number of ways.  First and most obviously the impacts of climate change, such as increasing droughts and desertification and more extreme weather events such as typhoons, could impact China’s development.  Second side effects from the causes of climate change, including air pollution from burning coal, are already having negative health impacts and a subsequent detrimental impact on the economy.  Third these pollution and weather/climate impacts could affect the political stability within China.  Finally the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions may impose a cost on the economy and have international implications relevant for China’s growth.  I’ll explore the first points in this post, and the final point will be explored in the second part of this series.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Inclusive Wealth Index aka: markets are not god-given-formulas

The UNEP recently launched a new report/index - the Inclusive Wealth Index (IWI).

The IWI looks beyond the traditional economic and development yardsticks of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Human Development Index (HDI) to include a full range of assets such as manufactured, human and natural capital, showing the true state of a nation's wealth and the sustainability of its growth.  It aims to show whether we are building or destroying the productive base that supports our well being.

Some country examples:
Australia has an annual GDP growth rate of 2.2% over the last 19 years, but an IWI of only 0.1%.
China – GDP 9.6%, IWI 2.1%
US – GDP 1.8%, IWI 0.7%

Wedging the emissions gap

Allright, so it's not the title I would have chosen but Blok, Höhne, van der Leun & Harrison in Nature Climate Change have quantified 21 initiatives that would achieve an additional 10 Gt CO2e mitigation -  hence ‘wedging the emissions gap’.

Below is a potted cut and paste job, I recommend going to: for the full (and not long) paper