‘Green growth’ in Asia – oxymoron or hope for the future?
Share this on

‘Green growth’ in Asia – oxymoron or hope for the future?

In June I posted about so-called green growth in China and how it’s usually one or the other and rarely, if ever, both. Yet the governments of developing Asian countries still believe. They want Western style development, but think this can happen sustainably, or at least want to get to Western levels of development and then, like the West, throw around ideas of sustainability – because, let’s face it, that’s basically all the West is doing.

But these aren’t the days of the Industrial Revolution. The Earth is already up the proverbial creek and only the mega-rich have a paddle. Furthermore, individual developing countries are finding it hard to use Western growth models and ignore the consequences. The people know too much and won’t just drink the Kool-Aid anymore. Or maybe they will, but at least they don’t want to use polluted water to make their Kool-Aid.

From the Economist:

[…] the costs of waiting for a clean-up are rising, undermining the argument that poor countries cannot afford to go green. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences reckons the total annual damage to China’s economy from environment degradation is the equivalent of 9% of GDP (see chart). The World Bank says bad sanitation and water pollution cost India 6% of national income. Even ignoring the global impact of rising temperatures and falling biodiversity (see article), therefore, the local and national costs of environmental damage are alarming. Nicholas (now Lord) Stern, a British economist, said in a big report in 2006 that climate change would be a brake on growth. That prediction may already be coming true.

So trashing the environment costs money. Now there’s some incentive to not destroy our most valuable resource just to make a fast buck.

Yet according to a report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the giants of rapid development in Asia, namely India and China in case you didn’t know, are not really pursuing green growth. The reports shows green growth “stalled” in 2011, while GDP and emissions both went way up. Sounds like traditional growth to me.

From China Dialogue:

Compared to China’s commitment to reduce carbon intensity per unit of production by 40-45% by 2020 compared to 2005, in 2011 this figure stood at 17% below, says the report. In India, it was only 3% below, compared to the promise of a 20-25% reduction. This means that to meet its commitment, China will now require an emissions change of 12% by 2020, which translates to an annual decarbonisation rate of 4.5% for the rest of this decade. India will need an emissions change of 31%, which means a 2.8% annual decarbonisation rate till 2020. China is now the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, followed by the US and India.

In other Asian “green growth news”, the second Forum for Green Economy and Green Growth (GEGG) will take place this month in Burma; and a World Bank report has picked the Philippines’ Cebu City, Vietnam’s Da Nang and Indonesia’s Surabaya as green growth drivers. They are also the three fastest-growing cities in the East Asia and Pacific region. Sounds a bit optimistic to me.

Read more about it in the Business Mirror.


India's Green Business Center, pic: USAID U.S. Agency for International Development