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Is economic growth the environment's best friend?

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Whether economic growth is good or bad for the environment has since long been a matter of fierce debate. Recently, it has become quite popular among neoclassical economists and policy makers to praise economic growth as the best way to reach a decent environment. This study investigates the link between economic growth and the environment and presents the theoretical case for both 'environmental optimism' and 'environmental pessimism'. It shows that, theoretically, economic growth can be either good or bad for the environment. The author therefore analyses existing empirical studies finding that the available evidence does not allow to draw any general conclusions. There is no scientific answer on the consequences of economic growth on the environment. Whether one believes in environmental optimism or pessimism is ultimately just that: a matter of belief.

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