Corporations and the environment in East Asia

Responsibilities and responses of businesses

Authored by: Phillip Stalley

Routledge Handbook of Environment and Society in Asia

Print publication date:  August  2014
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415659857
eBook ISBN: 9781315774862
Adobe ISBN: 9781317685715

10.4324/9781315774862.ch8

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Abstract

Over the last three decades the nations of East Asia have made tremendous strides in promoting economic growth. 1 Between 1990 and 2005 the number of people living in poverty, defined as less than $1.25 per day, declined 70 percent (Preneuf & Kitt 2010). The Asian Development Bank estimates that during this period 521 million Asians escaped poverty (ADB 2011: 1). However, economic success has come at a steep environmental cost, particularly in the form of industrial pollution. The World Bank estimated that at the end of the 1980s Asian developing economies had already surpassed the OECD nations as the leading producer of industrial wastewater. By the turn of the century, Asia’s water pollution, as measured by suspended solids, was more than four times the world average. Air pollution, as measured by particulate matter in the air, was twice the world average and more than five times that of the developed world (Rock & Angel 2007: 10, Table 1). In 2005, more than half of Asia’s cities reported total suspended particulates and nitrous dioxide concentrations above World Health Organization standard limits (ADB 2011: 1). In 2002, there were more than 500,000 deaths per year attributed to outdoor air pollution in East and South Asia, roughly 60 percent of the global total (Zhang 2008: 3906, Table 1). In 2007, the World Bank stated that air pollution led to 750,000 premature deaths in China alone (World Bank 2007).

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