Sustainable Living

In week 9 of our class, we talked about sustainable living. How can we become not just environmentally friendly but also economically friendly as well? That has always been the downside whenever countries wanted to be more economically friendly. It is why developing countries like India and China have such low environmental standards. The costs of green technologies outweighs their need to progress.

How can regions like the European Union and North America increase their efforts to keep pace with environmental standards like the rest of the world? In The New York Times article, Jame Kanter responds to that question with one simple answer: Cold hard cash. “How much?” one would ask. European ministers said in one of their conditions, developed countries would be paying more than $140 billion dollars a year. Of course with that kind of money comes terms and restrictions but offering countries that much money can be a huge burden especially during todays economic situation. Also, converting an entire country to be more environmentally aware doesn’t happened overnight, which means it could be many years for them to catch up to the rest of the world but it’s a start.

Many of the developing countries see being “green” as a luxury that they simply cannot afford but that is not the case. Governments can issue policies that taxes factories to create incentives promoting more environmentally friendlier practices. Raghbendra Jha and John Whalley wrote in their comprehensive report, The Environmental Regime in Developing Countries, discussing the negative effects from pollution in developing countries. In table 7.2, is discusses the negative economic impact from environmental costs. In China, soil erosion, deforestation and land degradation, water shortages, and destruction of wetlands accounts for 3.8-7.3 percent of China’s GDP. Health and productivity losses from pollution in cities accounts for 1.7-2.5 of China’s GDP. More can be read in the report.

When the costs of pollution is almost ten percent of a country as big as China’s GDP, is sustainable living still a luxury?

Sources:

http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/08/how-much-should-poor-countries-be-paid-to-fight-climate-change/

http://www.nber.org/chapters/c10610.pdf