Links Between Climate And Economic Growth Environmental Sciences

Add: 28-11-2017, 11:40   /   Views: 1 013

India and China are recognized as the two most populous countries in the world, having a population of more than two billion between the two countries (Sen 2006).

According to climate scientists, human activities are blamed for the rising atmospheric concentrations of the natural greenhouse gases and this situation will further deteriorate as the human population continues to rise and increase the demand for production (Manne and Richels 1992).

As a result of human activity, within less than 200 years, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have increased by around 50 per cent in comparison to pre-industrial levels (King 2004).

If such trends continue, the greenhouse effect would be enhanced by the buildup of these gases and thus cause a great amount of warming during the next century (Manne and Richels 1992).

Miller and Spoolman (2008), state that China is rapidly industrializing and as a result, the country's economy is growing at one of the highest rates in the world.

Despite their one-child policy, China is still recognized as the world's most populated country and it was found that around 6.8 million people were added to its population in 2008 alone (Miller and Spoolman 2008).

India, being the second most populous country in the world, is recognized as the world's second-fastest growing and fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases with the country's power sector being the largest contributor (USAID 2008).

As climate issues are deeply entrenched in issues of core economic development, several complex methodological features are involved in the study of adaptation and mitigation associated with climate change in developing nations (Halsnæs and Verhagen 2007).

This essay will focus on what causes developing nations such as India and China to be among the top contributors of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and discuss whether they are better off mitigating rather than adapting or undertaking both actions, and also examine what their barriers to combating these emissions are.

Greenhouse gas emissions as a global issue and the involvement of developing nations

According to Grubb (1990) the greenhouse effect is found to be highly complex and although it is believed that carbon dioxide emissions play a major part in such, a large contribution is also made by other different gases.

During the period between 1980 and 1990, around half of the global warming has been a result of CO2, while 18 per cent was from methane, 14 per cent was from chlorofluorocarbons, 6 per cent was from nitrous oxide, with other gases and trophospheric ozone making up 12 per cent (Grubb 1990).

Repetto (2006) argues that because a large section of the developing world already has higher temperatures, greater fractions of their economy is vulnerable, have technologies that are primitive, and lower income or fewer resources for adaptation, their economies are more susceptible to climate change in comparison with a developed country's economy.

Tucker (1995), states that in 1991, the United States, Japan, Germany, China and India were ranked as the world's highest in total metric tons of CO2 emissions.

Despite being among the top five, considering CO2 output, India and china are found to be greatly behind on a basis of per capita (Tucker 1995).

Figure 1 below, from the year 1991, shows this such trend where a clear difference in the data between these two developing nations and the three developed nations can be seen.

Tucker (1995) argues that with these nations continuing to develop, their total emissions will become more of a burden and global responses to this issue must involve their participation.

Figure 1.

CO2 emissions as a percentage and per capita emissions of the top five countries that produced the highest emissions in 1991.

Source: Tucker, 1995.

In the 1990's came the first international attempt to decrease greenhouse gas emissions via cooperative mitigation and with continuous agreements the Kyoto Protocol was established (Cuff and Goudie 2008).

However, developing nations such as India and China, being major emitters of greenhouse gases, were exempt from reducing their emissions (Cuff and Goudie 2008).

Repetto (2006) however, argues that the best chance of limiting the increase in greenhouse gas emissions at a lower cost lies in the larger developing nations such as India and China.

Within the next half-century it is expected that these nations will to a large extent, have their economic infrastructure expanded (Repetto 2006).

Repetto (2006) states that for such an expansion, it is wise to choose comparatively low-emission technology which could in turn greatly reduce the emission growth rate.

Shah and Larsen (1992) however, argue that any global solution to mitigate greenhouse emissions would eventually slow down the economic development of least developed countries.

Any efforts in the development of manufacturing capability that is energy intensive is recognized as more costly and therefore highly difficult (Shah and Larsen 1992).

Unless developing nations are guided by compensatory transfers, the comparative costs of action will most likely be higher for such nations as their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions will grow more rapidly than that of developed nations within the next century (Shah and Larsen 1992).

With developing nations aiming to industrialize, energy demand to a large extent as well as economic activity are found to be highly increasing in the developing world compared with already industrialized nations (Grubb 1990).

Brainard (2009) emphasizes that the support from industrialized countries for the reduction of emissions in the developing countries is also important as they are also consumers of the goods and services produced from such developing nations such as China and India.

For example Brainard (2009) has suggested that by implementing their own domestic targets for reducing GHG emissions, developed countries such as the United States could assist China as well as other developing nations to decrease their emissions.

Also, the assessment of how policies influencing both climate change adaptation and mitigation and development patterns manipulate factors such as cost-effectiveness, food and water security, health standards, equity, employment production, and energy security are recognized as highly essential (Halsnæs and Verhagen 2007).

Causes of greenhouse gas emissions in China and their responses

By the year 2020, China predicts that its coal consumption would expand fivefold to three billion tones per year and this is expected to add almost 50 per cent to the current global carbon emissions (Grubb 1990).

According to Eliasson et al.

(1999) it is found that China is seeking to make efforts in 4 aspects that are associated with their government's sustainable development strategy.

These are the continuation of policies aimed at controlling the population growth rate, the second is to encourage the use of energy saving technologies as well as to increase the energy efficiency, the third is to strengthen the country's efforts in making use of renewable energy from nuclear power and sources such as hydro, solar, wind in an aim to reduce the amount of fossil fuels within the energy structure and the fourth is to continue with the enhancement of CO2 sinks.

The significance of technology transfer also has been underlined strongly by the Chinese officials that deal with climate negotiations and it is recognized that the technological solutions associated with energy and environmental problems is extremely important in China (Durie et al.


With a study conducted on Shanghai, China, Gielen and Changhong (2001) has found that policies on energy and reduction of local air pollution will reduce CO2 emissions by close to 24% by 2020.

They state that other Chinese policies have also been found to assist in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and that emission mitigating technology such as 3 way catalysts made for cars and integrated gasifier combined cycles (IGCC) for the production of electricity are more cost-effective ways for reducing local air pollution (Gielen and Changhong 2001).

Auffhammer and Carson (2008) also argue that China's CO2 emissions growth rate is likely to decline if there are considerable alterations made in China's energy policies and that higher income for the country means that their CO2 emissions growth rate slows down.

Another study conducted in China, has found that there will be economic benefits, reductions in GHG emissions and local air pollution with energy efficiency improvements in the building sector, power production and industry (Halsnæs and Verhagen 2007).

In the study conducted by Wang et al.

(2005) it has been found that since 1980, China has made large contributions to the reduction of the world's CO2 emissions, despite still being the main producer of CO2 emissions and not being committed to the Kyoto Protocol.

They however argue that none of such carbon savings have been a result of policies associated with domestic climate mitigation (Wang et al.


According to Brainard et al.

(2009) in June 2007, the National Development and Reform Commission released the National Climate Change Program which is an inclusive national plan aiming to decrease GHG emissions and this was found to be a significant milestone in their efforts.

In a project conducted by the Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP) it was found that if no new policies were implemented since 2000, emissions were expected to rise by 132 per cent within 2000 and 2020 (Brainard et al.


With complete adoption of new policies implemented between 2000 and 2005, the increase in emissions is expected to decline considerably in the transportation, pulp and paper, iron and steel, cement and electricity sectors, reducing around 395 metric tons of CO2 from the projected yearly emissions in 2020 (Brainard et al.


Brainard et al.

(2009) further state that there has been significant success for China with the implementation of climate friendly policies within its economy's key sectors with the use of governmental policies and economic incentives.

Also, it is found that China uses economic means to hold back certain industrial sectors which produces high pollution levels and consumes high energy (Brainard et al.


However, it is also recognized that China faces many barriers when it comes to dealing with GHG emissions (Brainard et al.


The Chinese government has calculated the costs of implementing greenhouse gas emission reduction proposals to almost $270 billion by the year 2020 (Brainard et al.


Brainard at al.

(2009) argues that it is difficult for China to correspond efforts at local, provincial and national levels and that they have difficulties in knowing the method to finance the majority of its mitigation efforts.

Furthermore, the country has a lack of training and advanced technology which is recognized as crucial for emission reduction (Brainard et al.


Causes of greenhouse gas emissions in India and their responses

Economic reforms, air pollution abatement, renewable energy promotion, recycling and energy conservation are some of India's efforts in the reduction and avoidance of GHG emissions (Zedillo 2008).

Between the decade of 1990 and 2000, the yearly compounded growth rate of India's CO2 emissions was found to have a total increase by about 4.2 per cent per year (Sharma et al.


It has been observed that twice as much methane as CO2 is emitted by India (Tucker 1995).

Sharma et al.

(2006) has further found that the highest rise in emissions, at 21.3 per cent per year, was produced from the industrial sector while the second highest was produced from the waste sector, at 7.3 per cent per year.

It is also found that the coal-fired power stations in India produce more greenhouse gas than the power stations in the USA that are found to be similar (USAID 2008).

The emissions from the energy sector however had only risen by 4.4 per cent per year and there had been almost no emission increases recorded from the agriculture division (Sharma et al.


Over this certain decade, a rise in steel and cement growth in India can be accounted for the large emission increase from the industrial process division (Sharma et al.


Also, it has been recorded that in 2000, a large amount of the population migrated from villages to cities thereby increasing the amount of waste generated and this has been accounted for the emission increase from the waste division (Sharma et al.


It is estimated that GHG emissions in India are expected to rise close to three times more than the 1990 levels by the year 2020 as a result of the country's developmental needs (Sharma et al.


However, such climate change issues are said to be addressed effectively with the introduction of different climate-friendly initiatives, improvement in energy efficiency, renewable energy resource use and adoption of environmental measures, for example, the development of afforested land area (Sharma et al.


According to a news article however, in 2007 proposals for limiting GHG emissions were rejected by India as stricter limits were believed to slow down their growing economy (Terradaily 2007).

A focus on mitigation and adaptation in the developing world

In developing countries, even adapting to climate change costs around tens of billions of dollars and this is found to highly exceed the available resources thus needing significant transfers from developed countries (World Bank 2008).

According to World Bank (2008), between $150 and $300 million per year is contributed to existing funds for adaptation.

With the requirement of high-end renewables and expensive technologies, mitigation is argued to be quite expensive (Zedillo 2008).

It is however, also argued that people will have to face high adaptation costs with less mitigation and it is essential to take into account the costs and consequences associated with these as they can also contribute to a reduction in GDP (Zedillo 2008).

However, it appears that certain activities that are associated with enhanced greenhouse gas emissions require adaptation rather than mitigation.

According to World Bank (2008), as the impact of climate change is currently evident, it is urgent that agricultural systems are adapted to climate change because trends will continue although greenhouse gas emissions are kept constant at current levels.

Adaptation is known to considerably reduce the negative impact on the economy (World Bank 2008).

As a result of climate change, there are increased risks of livestock deaths, crop failures and are therefore causing losses in the economy as well as weakening food security and as global warming continues to increase, this situation is likely to become much more severe (World Bank 2008).

According to Zedillo (2008), the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol has been embraced by India and is aiming past smaller-scale projects, for example renewables and is looking at larger scale projects of emission reduction in sectors such as transport, power and cement.

If India has a suitable policy environment that is produced at local, national and global levels, then it is known to be possible for the country to hold great potential for such CDM projects (Zedillo 2008).

Zedillo (2008) has found that however, costs in terms of higher poverty and lower GDP are imposed with the reduction of CO2 emissions.

Furthermore, emissions are found to grow at a lesser proportion in relation to population growth (Zedillo 2008).

As a result, Zedillo (2008) argues that developing nations such as India and China are still far away from reaching the level where there is supposed to be obligatory commitments for reducing GHG emissions.

However, King (2004) argues that taking action against enhanced GHG emissions can be better for the economy, for example, it has been observed that despite China's economy growth between 1990 and 2000, their emissions fell by more than 60% within the same period.

For growth and development it is crucial for India to require energy consumption and it is found that the country is unable to promise the reduction of fossil fuel consumption as it is estimated that 650 million people in the country are without access to energy sources while 300 million are without electricity (Zedillo 2008).

According to Zedillo (2008), on per capita emissions or cumulative emissions should be focused on, although there has been an increase in GHG emissions in the developing world and argue that India must not be pressured into reducing emissions.


According to the literature on greenhouse gas emission reduction by developing nations, it is clear that there are barriers to mitigation and adaptation to greenhouse gas emissions faced by both India and China.

Among these barriers, the lack of finance and technology know-how can be considered as major issues.

It is evident that because of the high costs associated with mitigation, these countries are better off with adaptation rather than mitigation.

However, this method cannot be applied to all the sectors of production.

For example, whilst the method of adaptation can be applied in the agricultural industry, it can be more difficult to apply it for other industries.

In the same way, there are cost-effective mitigation technologies such as the 3-way catalysts made for cars, as mentioned earlier, that countries such as China will be better off adopting, in order to reduce their emissions.

Therefore, it appears that these two nations must adopt both adaptation and mitigation strategies, depending on the production sector, as cost-efficient responses towards GHG emissions.

It is inevitable that when the population increases within a country, the demand for various goods and services also increases simultaneously.

As the demand results in increasing the production, the production thereby leads to the increase in emissions of more greenhouse gases.

Today, both India and China produce not only for the demands from their own countries, but also for the demands of other countries as well.

Accordingly, the two subject countries are supporting the functioning of other countries economies to a certain extent.

As a result, it can be argued that it is the responsibility of the other countries, particularly the currently industrialized countries, to assist India and China in the process of mitigation or adaptation in response to the enhanced greenhouse effect.

Therefore, the co-operation of other countries that utilize the goods and services of the subject countries in the mitigation or adaptation for GHG emissions is necessary.