Developing countries should prioritize protecting the environment over their economic growth

Timed Essay Two

Economic Growth and the Environment


















Table of Contents Timed Essay Two 1 Economic Growth and the Environment 1 Seminar Questions: Economic Growth and the Environment 3 Text 1: Omoju (2014) 4 Text 1: Comprehension Questions 6 Text 2: Zou (2015) 7 Text 2: Comprehension Questions 11 Text 3: The Economist (2008) 12 Text 3: Comprehension Questions 16 Text 4: Jacobson (2016) 17 Text 4: Comprehension Questions 20



Preparing to listen to a lecture on your assignment topic

(This guidance is based on your lesson “Listening to lectures”)


Predicting: think & make notes

· What is the topic?

· Is there anything you already know about this topic?

· What key words / terms do you think you’ll hear?


Predicting: read & make notes

· Do a preparatory search online to get some background information on the topic. You can use Wikipedia, online blogs and any helpful websites at this stage.

· Scan the readings you have been provided with and make some notes on the sub-topics they mention.

· Try to identify why the authors wrote their texts (e.g. to report research related to this topic, to argue for or against something, to discuss a particular problem etc.)


Predicting: search & make notes

Has the lecturer uploaded their PowerPoint slides to DUO? If yes:

· Read through the PowerPoint slides

· Look up and define key terms / terms you don’t know

· Make a note of questions that occur to you as you read the slides

· Try to summarise in your own words or map-out the key points / sub-topics of the lecture


Remember to decide on how and where you will make notes when listening to the lecture e.g.

· On a downloaded copy of slides which you can annotate.

· On paper / in a notebook.

· In a labelled document on your laptop / iPad etc.





Seminar Questions: Economic Growth and the Environment


1. What evidence is there that developing countries are causing environmental harm?


2. Who is most at risk from this environmental harm?


3. As countries develop and become richer, do they normally become less ‘green’ or more ‘green’? Why?


4. What is the Environmental Kuznet Curve? How would you explain it, in your own words?


5. What does it mean to ‘leapfrog over fossil fuels’?


6. Can developing countries reduce their own environmental damage? If so, how?


7. Can developed countries reduce developing countries’ environmental damage? If so, how?


8. What is the relationship between economic growth, good government, and environmental health?











Text 1: Omoju (2014)

Omoju, O. (2014) Environmental pollution is inevitable in developing countries. Available at: (Accessed: 13 May 2020).

Oluwasola Omoju is based at the China Center for Energy Economics Research (CCEER), School of Economics, Xiamen University, China

Pollution is one of the many environmental challenges facing the world today. The impact of pollution is more severe in developing countries, leading to ill health, death and disabilities of millions of people annually. Developed countries have the resources and technologies to combat pollution. As a result of the health risks and the potential impact of climate change, there have been efforts to reduce pollution. However, while this may be easy for developed countries, halting environmental pollution may undermine economic growth and competitiveness of developing countries whose economies depends on natural resources. Developed countries have achieved substantial economic growth and development and can afford to focus on environmental goals because basic living necessities have been achieved.

At every point and in every level of development, countries need to make choices between often conflicting goals. Developing countries desire to ensure energy for all at a competitive price to achieve and sustain economic growth and poverty reduction. The energy poverty experienced in these regions has been linked with the high level of income and non-income poverty in the regions. In their desire to develop and improve the standards of living of their citizens, these countries will opt for the goals of economic growth and cheap energy for all. This may lead to environmental pollution and degradation. More so, energy access, and at a lower price, is necessary to make the industries in developing countries competitive and contribute to economic growth, job creation and development. Ensuring energy access to the population and enhancing the competitiveness of local industries may require providing energy at lower prices through energy subsidies. This will encourage energy over-consumption, waste and inefficiency and also fuel environmental pollution.

Most developing countries, especially those in sub-Saharan Africa, depend majorly on natural resources for revenue and foreign exchange. These economics are driven by funds generated from exploitation of natural resources such as coal, oil and gas, agricultural and forest resources, gold, copper, etc. The livelihood of the masses also depends on these resources. However, the exploitation and processing of some of these resources result in environmental pollution and degradation. For instance, the exploration of oil and the activities of multinational oil companies in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria has caused substantial land, water and air pollution. However, for Nigeria to maintain its current economic growth path and sustain its drive for poverty reduction, oil exploration and production will continue to be a dominant economic activity. This is also the case with a number of other developing countries.

The inevitability of pollution in developing countries has been demonstrated by the Environmental Kuznet Curve. The EKC is a hypothesized relationship between indicators of environmental degradation and income per capita. According to the theory, environmental pollution and degradation increase in the early stages of economic growth, get to a peak point, and reverse in such a way that the environment improves at high income levels. This is based on the fact that developing countries desire industrialization and economic growth and tend to consume more cheap energy. There is also need for developing countries to build roads and rail tracks and develop massive infrastructure to promote economic growth. Such activities that are required at the take-off stage of economic development are substantially energy-intensive.

The important role of industrialization in the development process of developing countries cannot be overemphasized. There is need for structural transformation from small-scale agriculture to industrialization in for developing countries to experience inclusive and pro-poor growth. However, industrialization requires massive use of energy resources which could lead to pollution and environmental degradation. China would not have achieved the impressive economic growth and development it has recorded in recent years if she had cared about pollution at the initial stage of development. Other developed economies like the OECD are also focusing on environmental sustainability after achieving considerable growth and improvement in the living standard of their citizens. The Chinese economic model is energy intensive, with strong focus on investment and industrialization, and is being adopted by a number of developing countries.

In conclusion, developing countries in their quest for economic development and poverty reduction are expected to put economic growth, energy for all and industrialization at the forefront of their goals before giving consideration to environmental issues. Therefore, compelling developing countries like those in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to pursue environmental goals, particularly reduction in CO2 emissions, will require substantial economic, technological and financial support from developed countries and the international community to compensate for the economic losses associated with reducing pollution.

End of text.

Text 1: Comprehension Questions


1. What are the global consequences of continued pollution?


2. Why is the goal of increasing the availability of cheap energy so important to developing countries?


3. What are the negative consequences of pursuing this goal through energy subsidies?


4. According to the author, many developing countries’ economies depend on their natural resources, how is this exemplified by the case of Nigeria?


5. In the author’s view, what needs to happen before a country can start prioritising environmental goals?


6. What is the name of the theory that says all countries have to cause environmental damage during their early stages of economic growth?


7. According to the author, what three kinds of support will developed countries have to provide if they want developing regions such as South Asia to avoid pollution?
















Text 2: Zou (2015)

Zou, J. (2015) Trend 6: Rising pollution in the developing world. World Economic Forum. Available at: (Accessed: 13 May 2020).

Zou Ji is Deputy Director-General, National Centre for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, China, and a Member of the Global Agenda Council on Climate Change

The industrialization of the developing world is creating unsustainable pollution levels. The solution requires a technological and an intellectual revolution; an alternative route to economic prosperity that preserves resources and limits carbon emissions has to be developed before it is too late. The developing world has learned a lot about commercial models, infrastructure and technology from Europe and North America. Those patterns worked well economically, but the world’s carbon capacity cannot allow us to continue on this path. Rising pollution in the developing world

is ranked as the sixth most significant global trend this year – and in Asia it’s the third. China became the largest greenhouse gas emitter in 2005 and in this position, followed by the United States and the European Union, according to the World Resources Institute. Brazil and India are the fifth and the eighth biggest polluters. Developing countries will suffer the most from the weather-related disasters and increased water stress caused by global warming, consequences outlined in our other trend chapters. Even 2°C warming above preindustrial – the minimum the world will experience – would result in 4-5% of African and South Asian GDP being lost and developing countries are expected to bear 75-80% of impact costs.

China’s burgeoning manufacturing sector produced one of the biggest historical increases in power generation capacity – but this has come at a huge cost. According to analysis by the Global Burden of Disease Study, air pollution in China contributed to 1.2 million premature deaths in 2010, representing a loss of 25 million years of healthy life. We need to find a means to continue the country’s expansion while reducing fossil fuel use. This means investing in a power generation network that can replace coal, including renewables, nuclear and gas, and phasing out low-efficiency generators. Progress needs to be measured by something other than GDP, which does not include environmental conditions or quality of life.

As important as China’s role will be, the developing world must stick to targets set for renewable power generation, ensure high-polluting industries are properly regulated, and promote clean energy. As the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, China’s policies are critical in addressing global warming, and are also influential for other

developing nations. The latter have the most work to do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and will bear the impacts of global warming, yet the responsibility for the crisis can’t rest with them alone; World Bank research estimates high income countries are responsible for two-thirds of the CO2 released into the atmosphere since 1850.

There are two main ways developed countries need to help with this process. There needs to be a flow of funding to the developing world, providing the means to finance change, and we must cooperate to develop new low carbon technologies. It’s crucial that countries such as China build up their research and development capacity for solar power, wind turbines and carbon capture, and international cooperation can help developed countries become involved higher up the supply chain.

The 2010 Cancun accord, which set long-term funding arrangements, is the second part of the puzzle. The Green Climate Fund, formalized at the conference, provides a mechanism for helping developing nations adapt and reduce their carbon emissions. Even so, we still need to ensure that the money flows to these projects, and developed countries need to make clear how to achieve this financial assistance target. It is important to understand that once high-carbon solutions have been implemented, they are difficult to replace. This means the decisions being made today on power generation, and the way our cities and transport networks are designed, are absolutely crucial. There is a potential to have a big impact now, but the window of opportunity will close very soon.

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