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Greenhouse Gases and Human Well-Being: China in a Global Perspective

SEI US Working Paper, WP-US0907

Author(s): Stanton, E.A.
Year: 2009

Research Area(s): Climate Economics

Description: Most pollution is an unequivocal social bad - a negative externality - but the relationship between greenhouse gas emissions and human well-being is unusually complex. In the long-run, there is a strong scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions will result in higher temperatures and sea levels, and a disruption of historical weather patterns. In the short-run, greenhouse gas emissions, and the activities that produce these emissions, result in a mixed set of consequences. Industrialized countries have higher emissions, but also more revenue from the sale of industrial products. China and a few other rapidly industrializing countries stand in the middle. On one side are poorer, less industrialized countries with little responsibility for the emissions that cause climate change and few resources with which to combat its effects. On the other side are richer, more industrialized countries with enormous culpability - both past and present - for the problem of climate change and ample funds for adaptation measures to protect human well-being. This paper takes China as a case study to examine the relationship between greenhouse gas emissions and human well-being.

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