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Economic growth refers to positive change in the production of goods and services in an economy over a given period, usually a long period. In practice, the most widely used indicators to measure is the Gross Domestic Product or GDP. It is measured "volume" or "constant prices" to correct the effects of inflation. Growth rate, it is the rate of change of GDP. The GDP growth per capita is often used as an indication of the improvement of individual wealth, comparable standard of living (Investopedia US, © 2012).
The economic growth is defined as an increase in production in the long term, it can have negative effects on the environment, creates concerns for sustainable development. It has three circles: environmental, social, and economic.
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Figure 1: three circles of sustainable development
Growth is a fundamental process of contemporary economies, due in particular to the industrial revolution, access to new mineral resources (deep mines) and energy (coal, oil, gas, nuclear ...) as well as progress art. It transforms people's lives to the extent that it creates more goods and services. In the long term, growth has a significant impact on the standard of living (as opposed to quality of life) of companies that are part. Similarly, enrichment resulting from economic growth can help to reduce material poverty. However, some consequences of economic growth (such as pollution and environmental damage, including accentuation of social inequalities) are often considered perverse effects that require distinguish growth and progress (Pietro F. Peretto, 2012).
Economic growth due to an increase of production depends on the increase factors of production, natural resources, land and human often do little difficult, expensively or slowly renewable and partly technical progress. Some authors such as Thorvaldur Gylfason and Gylfi Zoega (2006) believe that economic growth measured by GDP tends to destroy the stock of natural resources. Some contemporary economists such as Paul Romer (1990) include in their reflections limitation of natural resources, and the fact that technological progress and knowledge can generate new growth.
The issue is therefore: Can we reconcile economic growth and sustainable development?
I. The current economic growth is not compatible with Sustainable Development
1 - A destructive economic growth:
Until the early nineteenth century, the human economy thinks it is within the limits and the terms of those of nature, and conversely, the economy of nature is conceived metaphorically in the economy of those men (Hudson P. 2011). This consistency is characteristic of society's largely agricultural users of cold energy (hydro, wind), dependent on natural rhythms and cycles. This vision of the linear and steady state will be undermined by Darwin's paradigm of a nature evolution. The man is then a nature that evolves in nature that it is likely to evolve to a nature that it is capable of transforming even deeper (Tim M. Berra, 2008).
After the military defeat of Napoleon's troops, a serious question agitated the minds of patriots seeking the causes of this failure. If France was in 1789, the first European power, it is no longer the case in 1815 (Pearson Education, © 2010). France is exceeded by England in regard to the volume of production and technological advancement. Military power is no longer sufficient to dominate the world, now it is necessary to have an economic and industrial power. This is the era of the industrial revolution (Ashton, T. S. 1948).
But nowadays, the harmful effects on the environment are ignored: the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, intensive fishing or emissions of greenhouse gases from factories and automobiles accompany the increase in GDP but catastrophic in terms of sustainability (or sustainable). Indeed, these activities threaten the ability of future generations to meet their needs (resource depletion, global warming, etc.).
A - Resource depletion and overconsumption:
In developed countries, people produce and consume more than necessary. The means of production have reached such a performance as their role subsistence gave way to the consumer, replacing the need for pleasure and desire. Developing countries such as China, India, Russia and the South countries aspire to our standard of living, using the same models (Evan-Jones M. 2011). Economic output in some cases leads to disturbances in the ecological balance, due to the overexploitation of natural resources, greenhouse gas emissions (fossil fuels), over-pumping (water), surlabourage (arable land), overgrazing (plant resources ), fishing (fishery resources). Increase the production of material goods or transport (in response to population growth, for example) can exacerbate these disturbances (World Resources Institute, 1995). These effects are particularly noticeable since the 2000s in the plains of northern China, for example, which is starved of water as a result of economic activity in a very strong growth since the 1980s (Sedghi A. 2012).
B - Greenhouse gas emissions:
The global warming come from the greenhouse gas emissions which bring climate change. Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have increased since the nineteenth century. The phenomenon is due to human activities, such as the massive use of fossil fuels in a few decades, significant amounts of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from the carbon stored in the basement since the Paleozoic era. Increasing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere which results can be a factor in global warming. In 2007 (Walsh B. 2011), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that the man seems to be, with a probability of about 90%, responsible for climate change (IPCC, 2012).
C - Water and air pollution:
Water pollution is a major issue in the developing countries such as China. China is facing a situation more difficult for water resources, as industrialization and urbanization of the country growing water demand on the rise, said Hu Siyi, Chinese vice Minister of Water Resources. Water scarcity, pollution of rivers and the deterioration of the aquatic ecology are particularly important and could threaten the country's sustainable development (Xinghua, 2012). Apart from water pollution is the most serious air. Large urban centres such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong saw their fleet swell to saturation. The WHO estimates that air pollution causes more than 300,000 premature deaths per year. Asthma, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease increase abnormally (Haidong Kan, 2009).
2 - Unequal economic growth:
The gap between rich and poor has widened and the number of people living below the poverty line has increased over the past two decades. More people may be marginalized in the global economy is constantly changing. The evolution is quite widespread, affecting three-quarters of OECD countries. The magnitude of change is small, but significant (7-8%) (OECD, © 2008).
A - The income gap:
On average in the OECD, in 2005 the incomes of the richest 10% are on average nearly nine times the income of the poorest 10%.
Income inequalities have widened significantly in the early 2000s, Germany, Canada, the United States and Norway. For cons, the gap has tended to narrow in Greece, Mexico, Turkey and the United Kingdom in the past decade.
The income of the poorest 10%, very low in Turkey and Mexico (around £620) is eight times higher than in Europe, but only 6 times in the United States. Their income in Sweden and a half times that of the poor in the United States, while the average income is higher (OECD, © 2008).
Income inequality, mid-1990 and late 2000s (0 represents exact equality and 1 represents total inequality):
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Figure 2: Income inequality, mid-1990 and late 2000s (The Conference Board of Canada, © 2012)
Rising inequality is usually explained by the fact that the rich have seen their incomes increase as compared to low-income earners as compared to income earners means. On the other hand, income from capital and self-employment are very unevenly distributed, and inequalities in the distribution were further accentuated. The distribution of wealth among households is much more unequal than the distribution of income (The Conference Board of Canada, © 2012).
B - The extent of poverty in 2005:
The OECD average is 10% of households have an income below the national median. With considerable variation: 5% in Denmark, 20% in Mexico. Among the lowest rates, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Austria, Norway, France, Hungary, Finland, the Netherlands and among the strongest, Turkey, United States, Japan, Ireland, Poland, Spain. Germany is the average. The elderly are much less likely to be affected by poverty than in the past. The phenomenon of poverty is significantly shifted from pensioners to young adults and families with children, especially single-parent families.
Work reduces poverty: jobless families are almost six times more affected by poverty than families' assets. Today there are a greater number of people in employment there are 10 or 20 years and this has reduced the effect of rising inequality.
Yet the work is not enough to avoid poverty: more than half of the poor live in households where at least one person working. Japan and the United States in 2005 who had an employment rate higher poverty rate were higher than the OECD average. The large pockets of unemployment among low-skilled and low-educated secrete poverty.
Analysing the disparities between the more or less reducing inequalities, the OECD emphasizes the role of public policy by redistributive policies (tax systems, social benefits) and by the action of public services.
Tax on income and social benefits reduce inequality on average one-third, 60% poverty. But this impact is reduced in many OECD countries over the past decade. The benefits are the services provided by the public-education, health, housing, etc. are down by a quarter the standard measure of income inequality, because their income is more equally distributed than income (OECD, © 2008).
Final thoughts, the poor spending a greater portion of their income while the riches save some indirect taxes (goods and services) accentuate inequality.
In societies where income disparities are particularly marked are those where there is less mobility situation from one generation to another: in these companies, the remuneration of son is close to those of fathers. Greater income equality is associated with greater intergenerational mobility in terms of remuneration.
(All data analysis made from: http://www.oecd.org/social/socialpoliciesanddata/growingunequalincomedistributionandpovertyinoecdcountries.htm)
II - An economic growth more environmentally friendly and equitable is necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development
1 - Integrate environmental protection:
Protection of the environment is to take steps to minimize or eliminate the negative impact of human activities on the environment. Beyond the simple nature conservation, it is to understand how systemic and possible global environment, to identify human actions that damage to the point of detriment to present and future generations; and implement the corrective actions. This action is both scientific as it requires to expand our knowledge currently limited in this area citizens, as decisions have a cost for current generations and impact for future generations; policy because the decisions are necessarily collective and sometimes global.
A - Limit the greenhouse gas emissions:
To prevent and mitigate the effects of greenhouse gases emitted by humans and may cause a strong warming, the governments meet annually and for nearly ten years. The purpose of these meetings is to join as many states as possible for agreements to limit the impact of human activity on the climate.
In Rio de Janeiro was held in June 1992, the first Earth Summit where most countries adopted the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This agreement was intended to stabilize the emission of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2000. UNFCCC required signatory countries to fight against global warming anthropogenic. It was signed by almost every country; it was ratified by 175 states in 1994. Concrete measures will be taken through protocols (Ministry of sustainable development and planning, 2002).
The Kyoto Protocol is one of them. The text of the Kyoto Protocol was adopted unanimously in 1997. The main feature of the Protocol is that it has binding targets on emissions of greenhouse gases for the economically strong countries that have accepted it. Commitments under the Protocol vary from one nation to another. To compensate for these binding targets, the agreement provides the flexibility to countries on how to achieve their goals. For example, they may partially compensate for their emissions by increasing the sink, a term used to describe forests that absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This can be done in their own country or in other countries. They can also finance projects abroad aimed at reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. Several mechanisms have been put in place for this purpose such as emission trading which are: Emissions Trading, the Clean Development Mechanism and the Joint Implementation (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, © 2012).
B - Emissions Trading:
Limits for the emissions of greenhouse gas emissions set by the Kyoto Protocol are a way to assign a monetary value to the shared atmosphere. Nations that have contributed most to global warming have generally benefited more directly. They have removed a significant commercial benefit, thereby reaching higher standards of living, while they were not proportionally liable for damages caused by their emissions. The negative effects of climate change will be felt, however, everywhere on earth. In addition, the consequences of these changes should be greater for the less advanced nations that have generated very little emissions. The Kyoto Protocol sets a limit to the major economies of the total rejection of the emissions. Industrialized countries have mandatory emissions targets they must meet. But we can expect that some will do better than expected, ranging within the limits assigned to them. The Protocol allows countries that have emission units spared sell the excess to countries that have exceeded their emissions targets. This market is flexible but realistic. Countries do not meet their commitments have the opportunity to purchase compliance. But the price may be prohibitive. More the cost is high more the pressure to use energy is more efficient, to promote research and development of alternative energy sources that have little or no emissions (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, © 2012 & Environment business, © 2012).
C - Clean Development Mechanism:
The Kyoto Protocol is not a limitation of emissions of greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries. This does not mean that emissions in developing countries are growing, especially in the case of countries with high rates of population like China and India that are experiencing rapid expansion of their industrial production. The Clean Development Mechanism is full of details and abbreviations complex. It works as follows: the industrialized countries pay for projects that reduce or avoid emissions in poorer nations and are rewarded credits can be used to meet their own emissions targets. Recipient countries receive free advanced technologies that allow their plants or facilities generating electricity to operate more efficiently. All this at a low cost and generating higher profits. The atmosphere is more spared because future emissions are lower than expected (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, © 2012 & Talberg A. and Nielson L. 2009).
D - Joint Implementation:
This is the mutual assistance of the countries with emission targets. Joint Implementation is a program of the Kyoto Protocol allows developed countries to meet part of the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that are required by funding projects that reduce emissions in other industrialized countries. Specifically, these projects involve construction of facilities in the countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union also called transition economies. These projects are funded by the countries of Western Europe and North America (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, © 2012).
2 - Ensure the growth and development of the southern countries:
When discussing the concept of "North / South", we immediately think of the opposition of "rich" and "poor." The poverty criterion, first identified as developmentally delayed by the liberal economic theorists, has also been interpreted as the result of colonial domination by Western countries.
A - The fair trade:
The fair trade is a trading system whose aim is to achieve greater equity in international trade. The fair trade approach is a collective action organization new ways of production and distribution for the international market, based on social norms, economic and environmental equity, does not require the intermediate states and amending legislation national.
The economic dimension: small producers of raw materials (coffee, cocoa, honey, tea, etc.). Southern sell their products to the North at a fair price.
The social dimension: the companies of these small producers in the South (mostly associations or cooperatives) generally comply with their agreement with Southern partners conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) standards and working standards environment.
The environmental dimension: mixed cropping, use of natural compost (non-use of insecticides and herbicides) ( Fairtrade Foundation, © 2011).
B - Selective degrowth
This selective degrowth, whose scope will be determined by combining the criteria of ecology and social equity (to reduce inequalities both within countries and between North and South) might be the keystone of a coherent institutional proposal for a future both sustainable and equitable. In fact, this word sounds like a serious warning before the oil shock formidable structural and not cyclical in preparation for the very next year, and as a call to stop the unsustainable westernization of the world (Peter A. Victor, 2011).
To conclude, it is possible to say that yes, sustainable development is compatible with our way of life and the economic and industrial growth. It seems even the best solution when it comes to growing economically while respecting the planet. It succeeded, through technical innovation and investment staff to allow the world to continue its growth perspective, without having to completely halt its mass consumption. But it is nevertheless a perspective. In the short term, it is actually possible to implement sustainable development. But in the long term, the technology will she finally be able to build a sustainable world? Finally, should not it be better to give up this growth, before irreversible damage to our planet? These are questions that need to be asked and reconsider in a few years.