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Research Roundup on Green Growth and Development (November 2012)

Research Roundup Green Growth

 

   

  

"Green Growth" embodies the basic goal of enabling developing countries to achieve robust growth without locking themselves into environmentally unsustainable patterns. But what does this entail? A number of leading experts were asked to consider this question in a set of papers commissioned for the Inaugural Conference of the Green Growth Knowledge Platform, which took place in Mexico City in January 2012. The papers highligh both the contributions of the current state of environment and development economics for addressing the question, and important knowledge gaps warranting additional work.

 

Basic Concepts  |  Behavior  |  Technology and Trade  |  Models and Tools

 

 

 





Basic Concepts
 


Green Growth—Lessons from Growth Theory
Sjak Smulders and Cees Withagen, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 6230, October 2012

This paper reviews dynamic general equilibrium models in order to collect insights on the interaction between economic growth and environmental issues. The authors discuss the Ramsey model and extend it for natural resource inputs and pollution, as well as for endogenous technical change. Green growth becomes within reach if there is good substitution, a clean backstop technology, a small share of natural resources in gross domestic product, and/or green directed technical change.

From Growth to Green Growth: A Framework 
Stephane Hallegatte, Geoffrey Heal, Fay Marianne, and David Treguer, World Bank Working Paper 5872, December 2011

Green growth is about making growth processes resource-efficient, cleaner and more resilient without necessarily slowing them. This paper aims at clarifying these concepts in an analytical framework and at proposing foundations for green growth. The green growth approach proposed here is based on (1) focusing on what needs to happen over the next 5-10 years before the world gets locked into patterns that would be prohibitively expensive and complex to modify and (2) reconciling the short and the long term, by offsetting short-term costs and maximizing synergies and economic co-benefits. This, in turn, increases the social and political acceptability of environmental policies. This framework identifies channels through which green policies can potentially contribute to economic growth. However, only detailed country- and context-specific analyses for each of these channels could reach firm conclusion regarding their actual impact on growth. Finally, the paper discusses the policies that can be implemented to capture these co-benefits and environmental benefits. Since green growth policies pursue a variety of goals, they are best served by a combination of instruments: price-based policies are important but are only one component in a policy tool-box that can also include norms and regulation, public production and direct investment, information creation and dissemination, education and moral suasion, or industrial and innovation policies.

Ecosystem Services and Green Growth
Jeffrey R. Vincent, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 6233, October 2012

"Ecosystem services" has become a catch-phrase for the complex connections between the natural environment and human well-being. This paper considers the impact of changes in the supply of ecosystem services, and programs to increase their supply, on near-term growth of gross domestic product. It focuses on the relationship between locally generated versus transboundary services and growth in developing countries, where the highest rates of ecosystem degradation tend to be found. There is a common perception that there is a tradeoff between environmental protection and economic growth, especially in the near term. This perception can make policy makers reluctant to support environmental protection. Where the environment is a source of economically important services, then environmental protection may stimulate growth of gross domestic product instead of reducing it. The paper considers evidence on the economic value of regulating services; the degree to which ecosystems actually supply some of the services they are commonly assumed to supply; and the near-term growth implications of restoring ecosystems, and reducing their loss. This leads to a discussion on the effectiveness of programs intended to reduce ecosystem loss, with a focus on protected areas and payments for ecosystem services, and the effects of these programs on poverty alleviation.

Is Green Growth Good for the Poor?
Stefan Dercon, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 6231, October 2012

The developing world is experiencing substantial environmental change, and climate change is likely to accelerate these processes in the coming decades. Due to their initial poverty, and their relatively high dependence on environmental capital for their livelihoods, the poor are likely to suffer most due to their low resources for mitigation and investment in adaptation. Economic growth is essential for any large-scale poverty reduction. Green growth, a growth process that is sensitive to environmental and climate change concerns, is often seen to be particularly helpful in this respect, leading to a win-win in growth and poverty reduction terms, with additional gains for the cause of greening the planet and avoiding further disastrous environmental change. This paper argues that such a view ignores important trade-offs in the nature of "green growth" strategies, stemming from a poor understanding of the sector and spatial processes behind effective poverty reduction. High labor intensity, declining shares of agriculture in gross domestic product and employment, migration, and urbanization are essential features of poverty-reducing growth. The paper contrasts some common and stylized green-sensitive growth ideas related to agriculture, trade, technology, infrastructure, and urban development with the requirements of poverty-sensitive growth. It finds that they may well cause a slow-down in the effectiveness of growth in reducing poverty. The main lesson therefore is that trade-offs are bound to exist; they increase the social costs of green growth and should be explicitly addressed. If not, green growth may not be good for the poor and the poor should not be asked to pay the price for sustaining growth while greening the planet.

Natural Capital, Ecological Scarcity and Rural Poverty
Edward B. Barbier, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 6232, October 2012

Much of the rural poor---who are growing in number---are concentrated in ecologically fragile and remote areas. The key ecological scarcity problem facing such poor households is a vicious cycle of declining livelihoods, increased ecological degradation and loss of resource commons, and declining ecosystem services on which the poor depend. In addition, developing economies with high concentrations of their populations on fragile lands and in remote areas not only display high rates of rural poverty, but also are some of the poorest countries in the world today. Policies to eradicate poverty therefore need to be targeted at the poor where they live, especially the rural poor clustered in fragile environments and remote areas. The specific elements of such a strategy include involving the poor in payment for ecosystem services schemes and other measures that enhance the environments on which the poor depend; targeting investments directly to improving the livelihoods of the rural poor, thus reducing their dependence on exploiting environmental resources; tackling the lack of access of the rural poor in less favored areas to well-functioning and affordable markets for credit, insurance, and land; and reducing the high transportation and transaction costs that prohibit the poorest households in remote areas from engaging in off-farm employment and limit smallholder participation in national and global markets.

Green Growth, Green Jobs and Labor Markets
Alex Bowen, World Bank Research Working Paper 5990, March 2012

The term “green jobs” can refer to employment in a narrowly defined set of industries providing environmental services. But it is more useful for the policy maker to focus on the broader issue of the employment consequences of policies to correct environmental externalities such as anthropogenic climate change. Most of the literature focuses on direct employment created, with more cursory treatment of indirect and induced job creation, especially that arising from macroeconomic effects of policies. The potential adverse impacts of green growth policies on labor productivity and the costs of employment tend to be overlooked. More attention also needs to be paid in this literature to how labor markets work in different types of economy. There may be wedges between the shadow wage and the actual wage, particularly in developing countries with segmented labor markets and after adverse aggregate demand shocks, warranting a bigger and longer-lasting boost to green projects with high labor content. In these circumstances, the transition to green growth and job creation can go hand in hand. But there are challenges, especially for countries that have built their industrial development strategies around cheap carbon-based energy. Induced structural change, green or otherwise, should be accompanied by active labor market policies.

Behavior


Impact of Behavioral Issues on Green Growth Policies and Weather-Related Disaster Reduction in Developing Countries
Howard Kunreuther and Erwann Michel-Kerjan, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 6241, October 2012

This paper focuses on how developing countries can change the way they prepare for disasters so they are better equipped to sustain economic growth. It discusses the importance of considering the goals of key decision makers and the need to understand the perceptions, systematic biases, and heuristics used by the relevant interested parties (the affected public, private and public sector organizations, and nongovernmental organizations) in choosing between alternatives. The paper highlights the importance of undertaking benefit-cost analysis to evaluate disaster risk reduction measures, recognizing that decision makers might not make meaningful use of this policy tool given their behavioral biases and simplified heuristics. To address these issues, the authors propose green growth strategies that involve multi-year contracts coupled with short-term incentives that have a chance of being implemented. The strategies focus on the role of multi-year micro-insurance, long-term loans, and multi-year catastrophe bonds that reflect the institutional arrangements in the developing country. The paper illustrates this proposal in the case of farmers' agricultural practices and investment decisions that reduce losses to property from catastrophic disasters such as drought.

Psychology and Behavioral Economics Lessons for the Design of a Green Growth Strategy
Elke U. Weber and Eric J. Johnson, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 6240, October 2012

A green growth agenda requires policy makers, from local to supranational levels, to examine and influence behavior that impacts economic, social, and environmental outcomes on multiple scales. Behavioral and social change, in addition or conjunction with technological change, is thus a crucial component of any green growth strategy. A better understanding of how and why people consume, preserve, or exploit resources or otherwise make choices that collectively impact the environment has important and far-reaching consequences for the predictive accuracy of more sophisticated models, both of future states of the world and of the likely impact of different growth strategies and potential risk management strategies. The prevailing characterization of human decision making in policy circles is a rational economic one. Reliance on the assumptions of rational choice excludes from consideration a wide range of factors that affect how people make decisions and therefore need to be considered in predictions of human reactions to environmental conditions or proposed policy initiatives. In addition, a more complete and more fully descriptive understanding of decision processes provide powerful tools for policy design that complement legal or economic instruments or may lead to more effective implementation of such policy instruments.

Technology and Trade


Green Growth, Technology and Innovation 
Mark A. Dutz and Siddharth Sharma, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 5932, February 2012

The paper explores existing patterns of green innovation and presents an overview of green innovation policies for developing countries. The key findings from the empirical analysis are: (1) frontier green innovations are concentrated in high-income countries, few in developing countries but growing; (2) the most technologically sophisticated developing countries are emerging as significant innovators but limited to a few technology fields; (3) there is very little South-South collaboration; (4) there is potential for expanding green production and trade; and (5) there has been little base-of-pyramid green innovation to meet the needs of poor consumers, and it is too early to draw conclusions about its scalability. To promote green innovation, technology and environmental policies work best in tandem, focusing on three complementary areas: (1) to promote frontier innovation, it is advisable to limit local technology-push support to countries with sufficient technological capabilities—but there is also a need to provide global technology-push support for base-of-pyramid and neglected technologies including through a pool of long-term, stable funds supported by demand-pull mechanisms such as prizes; (2) to promote catch-up innovation, it is essential both to facilitate technology access and to stimulate technology absorption by firms—with critical roles played by international trade and foreign direct investment, with firm demand spurred by public procurement, regulations and standards; and (3) to develop absorptive capacity, there is a need to strengthen skills and to improve the prevailing business environment for innovation—to foster increased experimentation, global learning, and talent attraction and retention. There is still considerable progress to be made in ranking green innovation policies as most appropriate for different developing country contexts—based on more impact evaluation studies of innovation policies targeted at green technologies.

International Trade and Green Growth
Brian R. Copeland, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 6235, October 2012

This paper reviews the challenges and opportunities raised by international trade for developing countries considering a green growth strategy. A key concern is the effect of environmental policies on international competitiveness. For production-generated pollution, there is evidence that stringent environmental policy reduces some indicators of competitiveness, but the effect is small in most sectors. However, tightening up environmental standards is unlikely to reduce international competitiveness when pollution is generated by consumption. And where depletion of natural capital is a threat, effective environmental policy is an important component of a policy aimed at developing long-run international competitiveness. The effects of trade on environmental policy, the interaction between trade and technology transfer, and the interaction between trade and transboundary environmental problems are also reviewed. An emerging issue is the potential use of border taxes to curtail carbon leakage. The paper discusses some of the possible responses by developing countries. Some work has indicated that export taxes or voluntary export restraints applied to carbon-intensive production in non-coalition countries may be preferable to a carbon tariff regime. The paper concludes by suggesting some topics for further research.

Green Industrial Policy: Trade and Theory
Larry Karp and Megan Stevenson, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 6238, October 2012

This paper studies the reality and the potential for green industrial policy. It provides a summary of the green industrial policies, broadly understood, for five countries. It then considers the relation between green industrial policies and trade disputes, emphasizing the Brazil-United States dispute involving ethanol and the broader United States-China dispute. The theory of public policy provides many lessons for green industrial policy. The authors highlight four of these lessons, involving the Green Paradox, the choice of quantities versus prices with endogenous investment, the coordination issues arising from emissions control, and the ability of green industrial policies to promote cooperation in reducing a global public bad like carbon emissions.

Trade in a "Green Growth" Development Strategy: Global Scale Issues and Challenges
Jaime de Melo, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 6236, October 2012

This paper surveys the state of knowledge about the trade-related environmental consequences of a country's development strategy along three channels: (i) direct trade-environment linkages (overexploitation of natural resources and trade-related transport costs); (ii) "virtual trade" in emissions resulting from production activities; and (iii) the product mix attributes of a "green-growth" strategy (environmentally preferable products and goods for environmental management). Trade exacerbates over-exploitation of natural resources in weak institutional environments, but there is little evidence that differences in environmental policies across countries has led to significant "pollution havens." Trade policies to level the playing field would be ineffective and result in destructive conflicts in the World Trade Organization. Lack of progress at the Doha Round suggests the need to modify the current system of global policy making.

The Cost of Adjustment to Green Growth Policies: Lessons from Trade Adjustment Costs
Guido Porto, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 6237, October 2012

Green growth policies confront firms and workers with adjustments that may create welfare costs for different segments of the population and cause reductions in near-term actual versus potential gross domestic product. There is little evidence on the cost of adjustment to climate change measures, and only limited evidence for more general environmental policies, especially in developing countries. Therefore, this paper canvasses the research on adjustment costs to trade policies to draw analogies and highlight differences compared with the potential impacts of green growth policies. Trade policies affect prices and work directly on technology choice. In the presence of adjustment costs, firms may experience impacts on wages, employment, and incentives to adopt alternative technologies. Both types of trade policy impacts may be amplified by technology availability and credit constraints. Many green growth policies are likely to work via the same mechanisms, that is, taxes on emissions or changes in technology requirements. However, trade liberalization is typically seen as offering higher total incomes, albeit with winners and losers. Green growth policies are thought of as welfare-enhancing at the collective level but may not be income-enhancing at the individual level. This implies much more difficulty in measuring the potential gains associated with green growth policies.

The Role of Technological Change in Green Growth
David Popp, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 6239, October 2012

By reducing the costs of environmental protection, technological change is important for promoting green growth. This entails both the creation of new technologies and more widespread deployment of existing green technologies. This paper reviews the literature on environmentally friendly technological change, with a focus on lessons relevant to developing countries. It begins with a discussion of the data available for measuring the various steps of technological change. It continues with a discussion of sources of environmental innovation. Given that most innovation is concentrated in a few rich countries, this leads to a discussion of the remaining role for lower-income countries, followed by a discussion of technology transfer. Because of the importance of market failures, the paper discusses the role of both technology policy and environmental policy for promoting environmentally friendly technological change. The review concludes with a discussion of what environmental economists can learn from other fields.

Models and Tools


Introducing Behavioral Change in Transportation into Energy/Economy/Environment Models
Andreas Schäfer, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 6234, October 2012

Transportation is vital to economic and social development, but at the same time generates undesired consequences on local, regional, and global scales. One of the largest challenges is the mitigation of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, to which this sector already contributes one-quarter globally and one-third in the United States. Technology measures are the prerequisite for drastically mitigating energy use and all emission species, but they are not sufficient. The resulting need for complementing technology measures with behavioral change policies contrasts sharply with the analyses carried out by virtually all energy / economy / environment (E3) models, given their focus on pure technology-based solutions. This paper addresses the challenges for E3 models to simulate behavioral changes in transportation. A survey of 13 major models concludes that especially hybrid energy models would already be capable of simulating some behavioral change policies, most notably the imposition of the full marginal societal costs of transportation. Another survey of major macroscopic transportation models finds that key specifications required for simulating behavioral change have already been implemented and tested, albeit not necessarily on a global scale. When integrating these key features into E3 models, a wide range of technology and behavioral change policies could be analyzed.

Tools for Assessing the Costs and Benefits of Green Growth: The U.S. and Mexico
Winston Harrington, Richard Morgenstern, and Daniel Velez-Lopez, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 6242, October 2012

This paper examines the processes used in the United States and Mexico to assess the economic costs and benefits of environmental improvement, the kinds of information obtained from these procedures, and the additional knowledge that is needed about both elements to improve understanding of the problems and prospects of advancing a green growth agenda. Because environmental and other development needs are large and resources are limited, it is important to choose the best projects, those with the highest returns on both public investments and private resources harnessed by regulation. The United States is well established as a world leader in the use of quantitative methods to evaluate options for environmental regulation and policy. Mexico represents a case where a developing country has made clear advances in reforming its economy and in introducing transparency in its regulatory processes for environmental and other policy areas.

 

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