China’s thriving pandas are proof that economic growth is good for the environment

Giant pandas are among the world’s favourite creatures, becoming viral video sensations simply for sneezing or rolling around cutely. In a year with seemingly little cheer at times, there was good news for all who love the bears. That came when the International Union for Conservation of Nature ­removed them from the endangered species list – reducing their threat status to “vulnerable”.

Perils facing iconic animals like these have often been used by environmental campaigners to deliver an alarming message: the planet is going to hell in a handbasket. We shouldn’t yet consider pandas completely safe. But there are some clear and perhaps surprising lessons from this and other success stories. Chief among these is that economic growth can be good for endangered species and, more broadly, for the environment.

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23 Dec 2016