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"Environmental Kuznets curve" and Onion’s spoof of China’s Status as World’s Number One Air Polluter

Sorry; this was too good not to share:

China Celebrates Its Status As World’s Number One Air Polluter

China has now outstripped the rest of the world in GHG emissions, as well.

Government ownership of (and favoritism to) much of industry, a lack of clear or enforceable property rights and an inability of injured citizens to seek recourse for damages will all delay Chinese progress along the “environmental Kuznets curve” – which in my mind simply reflects the various information costs and transaction costs within a society in becoming aware of and responding to environmental problems.  Environmental problems are “problems” only because a lack of information or social infrastructure means that certain producers (and consumers of their products) are able to shift costs of production to others, who either may be unaware of the risks, unaware of who is producing them, or unable to organize and lack institutional abilities either to protect their rights or to transact with those who generate the harms.

Institutional deficiencies in China unfortunately mean that China will experience a higher peak in environmental damage than if it openly acknowledges its environmental problems and moves quickly to widely publicize pollution information, and to strengthen property rights, tort rights and access to fair courts (or, alternatively, to follow the Western example by abandoning common law approaches in favor of stronger statutory, regulatory and criminal measures).

More posts here on the environmental Kuznets curve.

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