Market failures associated with environmental pollution interact with market failures associated with the innovation and diffusion of new technologies. These combined market failures provide a strong rationale for a portfolio of public policies that foster emissions reduction as well as the development and adoption of environmentally beneficial technology. Both theory and empirical evidence suggest that the rate and direction of technological advance is influenced by market and regulatory incentives, and can be cost-effectively harnessed through the use of economic-incentive based policy. In the presence of weak or nonexistent environmental policies, investments in the development and diffusion of new environmentally beneficial technologies are very likely to be less than would be socially desirable. Positive knowledge and adoption spillovers and information problems can further weaken innovation incentives. While environmental technology policy is fraught with difficulties, a long-term view suggests a strategy of experimenting with policy approaches and systematically evaluating their success.
We develop and apply a new method for estimating the economic benefits of an environmental amenity. The method is based upon the notion of estimating the derived demand for a privately traded option to utilize an open access good. In particular, the demand for state fishing licenses is used to infer the benefits of recreational fishing. Using panel data on state fishing license sales and prices for the continental United States over a 15-year period, combined with data on substitute prices and demographic variables, a license demand function is estimated with instrumental variable procedures to allow for the potential endogeneity of administered prices. The econometric results lead to estimates of the benefits of a fishing license, and subsequently to the expected benefits of a recreational fishing day. In contrast with previous studies, which have utilized travel cost or hypothetical market methods, our approach provides estimates that are directly comparable across geographic areas. Our findings show substantial variation in the value of a recreational fishing day across geographic areas in the United States. This suggests that current practice of using benefits estimates from one part of the country in national or regional analyses may lead to substantial bias in benefits estimates.
Policy makers and analysts are often faced with situations where it is unclear whether market-based instruments hold real promise of reducing costs, relative to conventional uniform standards. We develop analytic expressions that can be employed with modest amounts of information to estimate the potential cost savings associated with market-based policies, with an application to the environmental policy realm. These simple formulae can identify instruments that merit more detailed investigation. We illustrate the use of these results with an application to nitrogen oxides control by electric utilities in the United States.
Economists have confined the concept of ‘sustainability’ to intertemporal distributional equity. We propose a broader definition, combining dynamic efficiency and intergenerational equity, and relate it to two concepts from neoclassical economics: potential Pareto-improvements and inter-personal compensation.
We critically review the Kyoto Protocol and thirteen alternative policy architectures for addressing the threat of global climate change. We employ six criteria to evaluate the policy proposals: environmental outcome, dynamic efficiency, cost-effectiveness, equity, flexibility in the presence of new information, and incentives for participation and compliance. The Kyoto Protocol does not fare well on a number of criteria, but none of the alternative proposals fare well along all six dimensions. We identify several major themes among the alternative proposals: Kyoto is “too little, too fast”; developing countries (DCs) should play a more substantial role and receive incentives to participate; implementation should focus on market-based approaches, especially those with price mechanisms; and participation and compliance incentives are inadequately addressed by most proposals. Our investigation reveals tensions among several of the evaluative criteria, such as between environmental outcome and efficiency, and between cost-effectiveness and incentives for participation and compliance.
Nature is the international weekly journal of science: a magazine style journal that publishes full-length research papers in all disciplines of science, as well as News and Views, reviews, news, features, commentaries, web focuses and more, covering all branches of science and how science impacts upon all aspects of society and life.
We conduct a national-scale analysis of the determinants of agricultural land values. The theoretical basis for the study is a spatial city model with stochastic returns to future land development. The empirical model of agricultural land prices is estimated with a cross-section on approximately three thousand counties in the contiguous US. The results provide evidence that option values associated with irreversible and uncertain land development are capitalized into current farmland values. For each county, we decompose the current agricultural land value into components measuring rents from agricultural production and rents from future land development.
The relationship between technological changeand environmental policy has receivedincreasing attention from scholars and policymakers alike over the past ten years. This ispartly because the environmental impacts ofsocial activity are significantly affected bytechnological change, and partly becauseenvironmental policy interventions themselvescreate new constraints and incentives thataffect the process of technologicaldevelopments. Our central purpose in thisarticle is to provide environmental economistswith a useful guide to research ontechnological change and the analytical toolsthat can be used to explore further theinteraction between technology and theenvironment. In Part 1 of the article, weprovide an overview of analytical frameworksfor investigating the economics oftechnological change, highlighting key issuesfor the researcher. In Part 2, we turn ourattention to theoretical analysis of theeffects of environmental policy ontechnological change, and in Part 3, we focuson issues related to the empirical analysis oftechnology innovation and diffusion. Finally,we conclude in Part 4 with some additionalsuggestions for research.
The possibility of encouraging the growth of forests as a means of sequestering carbon dioxide has received considerable attention, partly because of evidence that this can be a relatively inexpensive means of combating climate change. But how sensitive are such estimates to specific conditions? We examine the sensitivity of carbon sequestration costs to changes in critical factors, including the nature of management and deforestation regimes, silvicultural species, relative prices, and discount rates.
We develop a methodology for testing Hicks's induced innovation hypothesis by estimating a product-characteristics model of energy-using consumer durables, augmenting the hypothesis to allow for the influence of government regulations. For the products we explored, the evidence suggests that (i) the rate of overall innovation was independent of energy prices and regulations; (ii) the direction of innovation was responsive to energy price changes for some products but not for others; (iii) energy price changes induced changes in the subset of technically feasible models that were offered for sale; (iv) this responsiveness increased substantially during the period after energy-efficiency product labeling was required; and (v) nonetheless, a sizable portion of efficiency improvements were autonomous.
Economists and ecologists misunderstand each other about the environment. Improving interdisciplinary communication should enable natural scientists to take economic analysis and prescriptions more seriously.