A Long-term Perspective on Environment and Development in the Asia-Pacific Region
Economic development and population increase are the most important factors determining the amount of energy and other resources necessary for industrial production and people's daily living. According to various observations and analyses, GDP per capita may be the best indicator for describing the state of economic development of a country. With increasing GDP per capita, resource consumption and the associated environmental impacts generally increase. At the same time, however, improved economic resources will enable countries to take more effective and efficient measures to cope with environmental problems. Past experiences in developed countries give hope that the improved standards of living will provide better opportunities for governments and people of developing countries to be more aware of their environmental situation and enhance measures to control pollution.
Based on the above considerations, using per capita GDP as an explanatory variable, the forecast procedure began by plotting the trends of various economic, social and environmental indicators over the last 30 years. The relationships between the each of these indicators with per capita GDP was determined for the countries of the region and OECD member countries. This empirical relationship (a "learning curve") was applied to the 2025 GDP forecast figures for each country to derive the forecast for the indicators. When the same kind of relationship was found to hold for all of the countries, a single regression formula was obtained for all. When countries fell into several groups in terms of trends, a separate regression formula was calculated for each group. For indicators for certain items that are liable to exhibit distinctive change over time, such as urbanization, the regression formula took account of the time factor.
The business as usual (BaU) forecasts as of 2025 are made based on a conventional trend analysis and empirical regression formulas. In addition to this, results of a more comprehensive economic and environmental model (AIM Model) developed by NIES (National Institute for Environmental Studies, Japan) and Nagoya University were also used to complement the conventional BaU forecasts. The prime objective of AIM Model is to make long-term predictions to the year 2100, and the relevant outputs of the Model are presented to describe the situation in 2025. The two approaches are consistent in the basic model frameworks such as economic growth and population
According to this method, economic growth scenarios were set and forecasts made. The results are presented in terms of the following country groups.
The population assumptions have a significant influence on the future environment. Several modeling teams, including the AIM project team, have forecasted population growth in the Asia and Pacific region. Figure I-3-1 is one of the typical projections by the UN, coupled with the historical changes of last 250 years. In the eighteenth century, the total population was around 500 million. It will reach 6 billion by the middle of the 22nd century according to the medium projection.
A 12-fold increase is estimated within these four centuries, with the major increase occurring from the end of 20th to beginning of 21st century. The uncertainty range is vast, from 2 to 15 billion, mostly caused by TFR (total fertility rate) assumptions. The country shares of this total population also vary greatly, mainly those of China and India: the former from 25% to 13% and the latter from 15% to 30% of global population during the period of 1900-2100.
Figure I-3-2 shows individual country shares of population in the Asia- Pacific region under the medium projection calculated by AIM. China would keep its large share of population, and India, Pakistan and Bangladesh would have extremely large population increases.
(2) Economic growth
Environmental impacts associated with resource consumption, such as energy-related emissions, are strongly influenced by the GDP assumptions. The economic growth rates in the Asian region are generally very high. The most recent World Bank estimates predict that over the next decade economic growth in China and other East Asian developing nations will be 7.7 percent per annum, while India and other South Asian developing nations would have a growth rate of 5.4 percent per annum. These are far higher than the 2.8 percent average growth rate for the world's developing nations.
A lot of uncertainties lie in the future economic situations. Recent discussions assume that the historical growth rates cannot continue in the future, and gradually decrease to 0.5 - 1% per year in per capita GDP growth by the end of the next century. Projected economic growth rates are higher in developing than in developed regions, but it is not usually assumed that developing regions (excluding South-East Asia) will reach the level of developed regions in per capita GDP by 2100. The shaded areas in Figure I-3-3 are the assumed ranges in the AIM simulations and the historical records of per capita GDP changes. These assumed ranges are relatively low compared with the historical ones, consistent with the popular assumption that the rapid economic growth of the late 20th century will stabilize in the future.
For forecasting, the economic growth rates are assumed for respective country groups as indicated in Table I-3-1. All Asian countries except China, Japan, and Singapore are categorized as "Other non-OECD countries." Since GDP per capita of Singapore is already at the same level as Australia and New Zealand, its economic growth rate is assumed to be at the similar level as that of OECD countries rather than of other developing countries in this study. Two scenarios of low and high economic growth are used. Table I-3-2 shows per capita GDP figures for these groups based on the assumed economic growth scenarios.
|Other non-OECD Countries||3.75||6.60||4.20||5.50|
(3) Standard of living
GDP per capita is a good indicator of the standard of living, but there are many factors which can not be represented by income. The disparity between GDP and PPP (purchasing power parity) poses a fundamental question about the relationship between nominal income and real quality of life.
The national standard of living and quality of living environment are reflected in such items as birthrate, infant mortality rate, average life expectancy, and average daily calorie consumption. Figures for these items can therefore be used as indicators of average standards of living and the national welfare.
These indicators follow a fixed trend with per capita GDP increase: they rapidly improve as the per capita GDP increases, then begin to taper off as they approach a certain level. In other words, once the per capita GDP in developing countries goes beyond a certain threshold, the gap with developed countries in respect of standard of living narrows significantly. This threshold level is estimated at about 5,000 dollars.
The values for various indicators once the per capita GDP exceeds 5,000 dollars are as follows.
The Asia-Pacific countries where the per capita GDP has not yet reached 5,000 dollars but is expected to pass this level by 2025 are Malaysia, and Thailand (in the case of "high" scenario). This is to say that the standard of living in these two countries is expected to approach that in developed countries by that year. While the subject obviously cannot be properly discussed in simple terms that do not take account of the interregional variation even within a single country, it appears that the countries in groups C and B can look forward to a considerable rise in their standard of living.
As shown in Figure I-3-4 and Figure I-3-5, there are also countries in which the standard of living remains high for the per capita GDP level. The implication is that each country should attach more importance to the welfare of its people in its policies, as well as to countering excessive population growth.
(4) Changes in the economic structure
Figure I-3-7 shows the relationship between per capita GDP and the economic structure. A rise in the per capita GDP tends to be accompanied by a decline in the share of the GDP occupied by the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, in that order, and rise in that occupied by the service sector. Japan is an exception in this regard; in spite of the rise in its per capita GDP, its manufacturing sector share has been slower to decline, and its service sector share slower to increase, than in other countries.
As shown in Table I-3-3, no substantial change is predicted in the share of the GDP occupied by the manufacturing except for the case of Group A1 and D1. But at the same time, the region's industrial production is greatly increasing along with the expansion of its overall economy. In the process, the center of production is shifting away from Japan toward China, India and other lower-income countries (see Figure I-3-8).
The experience of developed countries indicates that the economic structure changes and manufacturing expands once the per capita GDP passes 1,000 dollars. Nevertheless, a look at economic growth in recent years reveals that economic structures have begun to change even when the per capita GDP is below this level. This suggests that the pace of industrialization in some countries could quicken. If this occurs, the outlook presented here for manufacturing sector production could fall short of actual levels.
It would be impossible to draw direct relationships between manufacturing product and environmental burden while ignoring differences of manufacturing sector make-up. Despite this reservation, the projected increases industrial production of Asian countries by 2025 range from three to eight times, and are cause for concern about a massive rise in volumes of industrial waste, and water and air pollutants.
Table I-3-4 presents figures for urban population. Since a relationship between the size of urban population and GDP per capita was not clear, urban populations were estimated by extrapolation of past trends in each country. Urban population, which currently stands at about 900 million in the region, is forecast to double by 2025. The increase in the motor vehicle ownership is even faster. If it continues at the current pace, by 2025 motor vehicle ownership in China will be more than three times that of Japan, and in the entire region about six times as large as at present (in high scenario; see Table I-3-5). Naturally, it is uncertain whether or not the actual increase will be so great, partly due to limitations on ownership and the lagging state of road construction in various countries. However, the steep increases in urban population and in motor vehicle ownership raise the possibility that the chronic traffic congestion already affecting several large Asian cities will spread.
There also are a number of sanitation issues which developing country cities must cope with, such as drinking water supply, treatment of domestic waste water and solid waste management.
Figure I-3-6 shows that per capita demand for food rises along with the standard of living. Table I-3-6 presents the forecast for total daily calorie consumption in each country group in 2025. It can be seen that there is no substantial change from the present.
In contrast, major change is anticipated in food quality. As shown in Table I-3-6, although there is some variation depending on the country group, consumption of animal foods generally tends to rise with per capita GDP. Table I-3-7presents a forecast based on this tendency. Of all developed countries, Japan has among the lowest per capita consumption of animal foods. If the current trend continues, by 2025, the per capita demand for such foods in China will exceed that in Japan.
This forecast is based on a simple model that does not take account of fluctuation in feed prices and other factors shaping the food supply and demand balance. It consequently is not a forecast of actual per capita consumption of animal foods in the region. However, it may be inferred that the latent demand for animal foods could expand tremendously in the course of subsequent economic growth. It follows that there could be an enormous increase in the demand for feed grain. The feed grain supply and demand balance in the region and, indeed, the world may hinge on whether or not sustainable methods of farming can accommodate this demand.
Even today, food distribution is under constraints in many areas. Assuring a stable supply of food requires improvement of the efficiency of food transport.
Table I-3-8 shows the forecast of the demand for marine resources. Consumption of seafood is higher in Asia than in the West. The demand for seafood is expected to increase by 2025 to more than double that in developing countries (in the high scenario). As shown in Figure I-3-9, the trend of this demand is already one of steep rise. An ESCAP report estimates that marine resources in various areas of the Asia-Pacific region are currently being used in quantities equivalent to or exceeding the sustainable capacity of production. As dietary standards rise, the supply of marine resources and practice of sustainable cultivation are likely to become vital issues.
The total crop land area in the region is expected to remain almost constant or even decrease slightly in the future. The increasing demand of food and the changing dietary pattern should be met by the effort to increase the yield per hectare of crop land, or by increasing imports from other regions. More inputs of energy, fertilizers, and agricultural chemicals to increase the yield would cause problems such as soil degradation and ground water pollution.
Population and economic growth of this magnitude will increase energy consumption and gas emissions of CO2, SO2 and other pollutants substantially. Table I-3-9 summarizes the aggregated index of these changes in primary energy use and gas emissions in the Asia-Pacific region, compared with those in 1990. These changes were estimated using the AIM model under three alternative scenarios. All estimates are based on medium population change. The high estimate is based on a high economic growth rate and slow improvemention energy efficiency, while the low estimate is based on a low economic growth rate and high technological efficiency improvement rate. The medium estimate is the coupling of all medium scenarios.
Estimates made using the AIM model forecast that primary energy consumption will increase in this region to 2.3 to 3.8 times 1990 levels by 2025 and 3.2 to 16.7 times 1990 levels by the end of the next century. It is predicted that, unless special policies are implemented, this region will see a sharp increase in coal and natural gas consumption in the first half of the next century. Figure I-3-10 shows CO2 emission intensities in 2025, which, when compared with the recent situation, indicate the areas where major increases in CO2 emissions will occur. They include Korea, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and Bangladesh.
Rising energy consumption will increase emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases. Table I-3-9 indicates it is probable that carbon dioxide emissions will increase rapidly and grow to seven times their current level by the end of the next century. The Asia-Pacific region's carbon dioxide emissions now account for 25 percent of the world total, but in 2025 they will be 36 percent, and grow to half by the close of the twenty-first century. It would not be an exaggeration to say that resolution of the global warming problem depends on what happens in this region.
There will also be swift increases in emissions of SO2 and NOx Emissions will peak around the year 2050, at amounts estimated to be three or four times present levels. There are concerns about serious health damage in the cities, and this damage will be accelerated by growing concentrations of people in cities. Also, it is anticipated that these emissions will cause acid rain damage over a wide area. Estimates indicate that in the near future -- within 20 - 30 years -- acid rain damage will become evident through soil degradation in a broad region encompassing East Asia and South Asia.
Emissions of pollutants are likely to continue to increase as industrialization advances. Pollution should begin to improve, however, once industrialization reaches a certain stage and technical measures to prevent it are taken. Japan has already passed through this stage, and the Republic of Korea is now in it. The outlook extending to 2025, however, contains expansion of production without sufficient pollution countermeasures in some countries. In such countries, investment for expanded production must be balanced by investment for environmental preservation.
In developing Asian countries, demand is steadily mounting for basic commodities such as iron, cement, and chemicals. Consequently, production in heavy and chemical industries, which impose a heavy burden on the environment, is expected to continue growing. The developed countries already have a considerable store of technology for environmental measures in such industries. It is vital that they transfer such technology to developing Asian countries.
In Japan and the Republic of Korea, meanwhile, the industrial structure is anticipated to shift increasingly toward mechanical assembly and such fields as ICs and information equipment. This will presumably be joined by increased development of business in other countries and shifting production to them by Japanese and Korean firms. Pollution caused by these sophisticated industries differs greatly from that caused by heavy and chemical industries. The implication is that treatment and disposal of a highly diverse mix of hazardous chemicals will become a critical issue.
With rising incomes and spread of affluent life styles, the volume of municipal waste to be treated will increase. Reduction of municipal waste has become a pressing policy issue in such countries as Japan and Republic of Korea which suffer from the shortage of land and lack of adequate disposal sites.
The content of municipal waste varies country by country, making it difficult to draw international comparisons. Furthermore, data on waste volumes are in extremely short supply, and it is not unusual for per capita figures for such volumes in one area of a single country to be several times larger than those in another. In developing countries, industrial wastes are often mixed with municipal wastes. Cities in developing countries, therefore, are forced to deal with solid wastes from domestic, commercial as well as industrial sources.
Despite these difficulties, data from OECD countries shows that per capita volume of municipal waste (garbage) generation tends to increase with per capita GDP; in Japan, daily waste generation per person increased from 1.0 kg to 1.1 kg from 1981 to 1991. Waste generation will likely become a crucial problem as urbanization progresses in the Asia-Pacific region.
Even if the waste generation per capita is assumed to remain constant for the next 30 years, the total volume of waste generated in cities would rise in proportion to urban populations. Even under this comparatively conservative assumption, the municipal waste generation volume in cities in developing countries will at least double, since a two-fold increase is forecast for the urban population.
In developed countries, re-examination of people's affluent lifestyles will be increasingly important not only for the reduction of waste but also for ensuring the efficient use of natural resources. In this regard, reuse and recycling of resources should be further promoted.
Land use changes influence the environment of the Asia-Pacific region. Figure I-3-11 shows the areas in which there will be land-use changes during the period 1990 - 2100 under the medium population projection. Estimates use the AIM model, assuming that the relationship between population growth and land-use changes of the past 100 years would continue until the end of the next century. Deforestation leading to cropland can be observed on the island of Borneo and in the northern part of the Indochina Peninsula. Deforestation leading to non-cropland is observed in wide patches all over the present forest area.
Table I-3-10 shows a transition matrix of land use between 1990 and 2025 under the medium population projection, which indicates roughly that one-fifth the area of forest in 1990 is converted to cropland and farmland. Loss of biological diversity, emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and threats to the life-style of indigenous people will occur.
Figure I-3-12 focuses on reductions in forest area. It shows a predicted reduction of total forest area of 13 million hectares from 1990 to 2025. Of this area, a 17% reduction of temperate and boreal forest area over 35 years is 23% of the total. The loss of tropical forest is forecast to be extremely fast. The amount of CO2 emissions which will be released into the atmosphere as a result of deforestation is expected to rise from 6.5 billion to 10 billion tons of carbon, equal to the amount of CO2 which Japan is releasing. Since tropical forests play an important role in global environmental conservation by maintaining biodiversity and the carbon cycle, strategies for sustainable tropical forest management are particularly important.
|Year||High estimate||Medium estimate||Low estimate|
|Primary energy consumption|
|Carbon dioxide emissions|
|from/to||cropland||forest||grassland||others||Total in 1990|
|Total in 2025||8392||5695||11182||7355||32624|
The results for population forecasts are shown in Figure I-3-13. At present, the Asia-Pacific region has half of the world's population. It will continue to grow, and continue to make up half the world's population, despite increases in other regions. A comparison of GNP growth is shown in Figure I-3-14. At present, the Asia Pacific produces about 20% of the world's GNP; by 2025 it will expand to 25%, ranking the region's economy with Europe/Former USSR and North America. The Asia-Pacific region will have the greatest economic growth in the world during the first half of the 21st century.
Economic growth will make energy consumption increase rapidly, increasing the burden on the environment from SO2 and carbon dioxide emissions. In Figure I-3-15 , which compares forecasts of energy consumption, growth in Asia Pacific is the most rapid. It will grow from a 20% share of global energy consumption in 1990 to 30% in 2025, more than that of North America. As a result, the emissions of SO2 will rapidly increase. In Figure I-3-16 it is clear that emissions of SO2 from the Asia-Pacific region are by far the greatest. Since the economic growth rate of countries in transition in some Europe/Former USSR countries is expected to slow down, their SO2 emissions will decline until about 2010, but then their economies are expected to recover, and the emissions will increase.
Furthermore, as energy consumption increases, so will CO2 emissions. The results of predictions are shown in Figure I-3-17. For these predictions, Annex I countries to the Framework Convention on Climate Change are assumed to stabilize CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by 2010. If this assumption is realized, CO2 emissions from the Asia-Pacific region will surpass other countries by 2025.
This analysis reveals that as the Asia-Pacific region will continue to have more than half the world population into the beginning of the next century and will grow to the same level as the economies of North America and Europe/Former USSR, it is clear that the region's growth of energy consumption, SO2 emissions, and CO2 emissions will be most rapid. As a result, environmental policies in the Asia-Pacific region will be of utmost necessity.
|Population: Annual Growth Rate|
|GNP: Annual Potential Growth Rate|
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