Technology, development, and the environment

K. Fisher-Vanden and M. S. Ho

Journal of Environmental Economics and Management (January 2010)

DOI: 10.1016/j.jeem.2009.08.002

In an attempt to achieve the positive externalities from a more knowledge-intensive economy, many developing countries have emphasized improvements in their science and technology (S&T) capabilities. China, in particular, has been experiencing an acceleration in its R&D intensity, causing many to wonder whether China is undergoing an S&T takeoff. In this paper, we simulate the effects of an S&T takeoff using a model of China that incorporates econometric estimates from 1500 industrial enterprises in China. We find that an S&T takeoff will lead to lower goods prices overall, but a larger drop in energy prices due to the energy-saving bias of R&D. The outcome is higher capital investment and economic growth; a substitution of energy for other factors of production; and greater energy consumption by households. Our findings underscore the importance of considering the economy-wide implications of a technology policy, recognizing that better technology does not necessarily imply a cleaner environment.

keywords: China; Energy use; Carbon emissions; Global climate change; Computable general equilibrium; Technological change

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