chapter  8
27 Pages

Motorization in Rapidly Developing Cities

ByYok-shiu F. Lee

The association between national income and environmental problems has been the subject of intellectual inquiries and policy debates in recent decades. One of the most popular postulations – commonly referred to as the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) – suggests that as national incomes rise, environmental problems will first get worse and then get better. In contrast, the urban environmental transition (UET) theory argues that while many environmental problems are associated with the development process, not all of them follow the EKC trajectory (Marcotullio and Lee, 2003). Proponents of the UET framework claim that as cities develop, the priority environmental challenges would, in the first instance, shift from those relating to the ‘brown agenda’ – including water supply and sewage – to those pertaining largely to the ‘grey agenda’ – such as industrial pollution and vehicular emissions. And as cities enter the post-industrial phase, they are confronted with ‘green’ agenda challenges such as greenhouse gas emissions, ozone-depletion substances, non-point-source pollution and increasing volumes of municipal waste (McGranahan et al, 2001). In other words, as cities become wealthier, the nature of their environmental problems changes from being primarily localized to being globalized; their impacts transform from being mostly immediate to being delayed by years or even decades; and their consequences shift from being predominantly health threatening to being ecosystem damaging.1