AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 140

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Session 140: Economic Growth and Environmental Protection in Asia

Killing Three Birds with One Stone: Japan’s lesson on Environmental Protection & Economic Growth for China
Takashi Kanatsu, Hofstra University, USA

The emergence of a few giant and rapidly developing economies such as BRICs is presenting a major challenge to achieve both economic development, reduced energy consumption, and environmental protection simultaneously. Facing these three challenges, our society needs to provide solutions that can kill three birds with one stone. This paper will explore and explain how Japan in the 1970s solved these three contradicting problems and its implication for China. This paper argues that the solution lies in the government ability to make a grand coalition that involves all major players in the society including major parties, citizens, and business sectors. First, although the environmental issues are commonly considered a collective action problem, it can be framed as a non-collective action problem depending on institutional settings. Second, the linkage between environmental issues to positive economic development must be established. This elimination of a zero-sum game is only possible by developing and adopting environmental friendly, energy conserving high technology. Thus, the grand coalition requires involving high technology business interests as its core. Employing this perspective, this paper will examine how Japan’s experience is relevant or irrelevant and possible to adapt to China or not in the current economic and global context.

Complexity in the Political Ecology of Burma’s Forests
Der-yuan Wu, National Chengchi University, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

The issue of forest conservation, as a vital part of global environmental concern, constitutes a legitimate but oft-neglected subject for political ecology as it involves conflicts over control of natural resources. Insofar as the Asia-Pacific is concerned, much attention of scholarly analyses has been directed to such countries or regions as Cambodia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea or Malaysia’s Sarawak. Nevertheless, the issue of “illegal logging,” as often depicted in these cases, largely falls within the domestic jurisdiction of governments concerned, and in geographical terms, great powers are not posed as proximate neighbors to them. Deforestation around the China-Burma border region, notably the Kachin and Shan States in northern Burma, by contrast, is closely linked to an ascending power, China, and involves how China’s environmental policy or diplomatic practice affects the contours and well-beings of its backyard, Myanmar. In the wake of China’s rise and its proclaimed “good neighbor” policy since the mid-1990s, the issue deserves systemic academic analysis. It will be argued that the development of forests in Burma’s northern frontier is deeply embedded in multiple layers of institutional structure as well as transnational complex networking of various actors across local, national and international levels. The prospective paper will hold that the institutional development around the region, the Chinese practice of foreign environmental policy and the configuration of transnational networking have complicated the situation and that their interplay may forestall effective resolution of the issue in the future until some of the patterns is altered.

Environmental Justice and the Controversy of Water Resource Development in Taiwan
Mei-Fang Fan, Independent Scholar, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

The inter-basin water transfer project raises important ethical and equity questions, such as distribution of benefits and costs, ecological impacts, changes in water quality and hydrologic regimes, alteration of habitats, and the impact on daily life of the local people. The Tseng-Wen Reservoir Transbasin Water Diversion Project, in southern Taiwan, is very controversial and involves not only indigenous peoples’ land rights and land-use planning issues, but also the problems of scientific uncertainty and knowledge disputes among various stakeholders. The research project aims to explore environmental justice and the precautionary principle in the context of the conflicts of water resource development in Taiwan and to develop a socially and environmentally-sensitive governance processes for water resources management. It examines how local residents and stakeholders perceive the impact of the interbasin water transfer project on the environment, economy, community, and future generations. It also looks at how they understand the concepts of environmental justice and the precautionary principle surrounding the disputes over interbasin water transfer and water resources development. The research method adopted will be documentary analysis, in-depth interviews, and focus groups. The exploration of different perspectives of the stakeholders and local activism will provide more detailed and complex analyses of the controversies of water resource development, and contribute to the theoretical refinement of environmental justice and the conception of precaution. The research will also be useful for environmental and water governance.

Energy Consumption, CO2 Emissions, and the Economic Growth Nexus in Bangladesh: Cointegration and Causality analysis
Mohammad J. Alam, Independent Scholar, Belgium

The paper investigates the existence of causality between the energy consumption and the economic growth; Co2 emission and economic growth using cointegration theory for Bangladesh over the period 1972-2007. First, we tested whether any long run relationship exist using Johansen Cointegration model complemented with bound test from auto-regressive distributed lag (ARDL) model. Then, we tested the short run and long causality relationship by estimating a vector error correction model (VECM). The estimation results indicate that the bi-directional causality both in the short run and in the long run for economic growth and energy consumption but an uni-directional causality between economic growth and Co2 emission. So, energy consumption drives the economic growth and vice-versa but economic growth drives the higher Co2 emissions. Our results are different, however. Hence, clearly an important policy implication is, energy can be considered as a limiting factor to the factors of production and to economic growth. Therefore, it is a challenge for the policy makers to formulate energy consumption policy to support factors productivity and the GDP growth. Although, Bangladesh is one of the countries producing least Co2, but the country should keep in mind for finding out alternative sources which produce less Co2 but not with compromising the economic growth in the short run.

China's Experiment on the Policy of Differential Electricity Pricing and the Struggle for Energy Conservation
Jinjin Chen, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Differential electricity pricing is promulgated by the central government of China to restrict the development of high energy-consuming industries. This paper examines the twists and turns of the implementation of the policy at the local level and seeks to elucidate the impediments of the implementation. Local governments, concerning following the central directives can hurt local interests, try to deviate the central orders while the central revises the policy from time to time to ensure local compliance. Three impediments are analyzed: (1) the current relations between the central and local energy regulatory institutions make local arms difficult to perform their duties; (2) financial decentralization leads local governments to become a local economic principal rather than a state political agent thus they focus on internal problems such as local economic growth and leave external problems such as energy conservation to the central government; (3) decentralization create regional winners and losers and the comparison between localities and the previous makes local governments to prioritize local interests rather than follow the central directives. To make energy conservation profitable rather than a constraint to economic growth may be the possible way to facilitate the implementation of energy conservation policies at local level in China.