The Meaning of Green Growth
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
Although the term is still rarely used in the United States, in recent years “green growth” has become part of the lexicon of global environmental policy. Unfortunately, although it is frequently cited as a public policy goal, green growth has remained vague and ill-defined, leading to conflicting interpretations and confusion over the distinction between green growth and related concepts like sustainable development. This paper seeks to clarify the meaning of green growth as a distinct concept, defining a “green growth frontier” of policies that dominate along both environmental and economic dimensions. The green growth agenda can be understood as moving societies toward that frontier of cost-effective and environmentally effective policies. Because movements toward this frontier generate gains along multiple dimensions, they should be less controversial and may allow for some progress toward economic and environmental goals even in contexts where broader political consensus over environmental policies is difficult to form.