Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=274768
 
 

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Toward a Total-Cost Approach to Environmental Instrument Choice


Daniel H. Cole


Indiana University Maurer School of Law; Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs; Indiana University Bloomington - Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis

Peter Z. Grossman


Butler University - College of Business Administration

June 23, 2001


Abstract:     
Much of the theoretical literature on environmental instrument reflects a normative presumption that only "economic" instruments, such as effluent taxes or tradable quotas, can produce an efficient outcome. Other potential alternatives, such as non-tradable quotas or more general Pigovian taxes are ruled out as inherently inefficient. Moreover, most of the literature relies on an important but unwarranted presumption: that cost and benefit functions, although they may be subject to uncertainty, are identical regardless of the regime that is chosen; that is price and quota systems are assumed to face the same cost and benefit curves with the same expected values. More crucially, the models assume that no regime will be subject to greater or lesser uncertainty than another. Under these assumptions, environmental instrument choice is determined simply by the relative elasticities of the curves.

The real world is far more complicated than existing models of environmental instrument choice suggest. For one thing, monitoring and enforcement costs may be quite different for one regime than another. These cost differentials may affect not only comparisons between effluent tax and tradable permit schemes, but comparisons between "economic" instruments generally and more traditional regulatory instruments, such as technology-based standards or general Pigovian taxes. In some cases, for technological or institutional reasons, economic instruments will not efficiently or effectively attain exogenously set pollution-reduction goals.

This paper offers a broader framework for comparing environmental instruments. Whereas most theoretical models focus exclusively on the comparative compliance/abatement costs of alternative regulatory instruments, this paper incorporates administrative costs and residual pollution costs into what we term a "total-cost" approach. The implications of this approach for environmental policy are then discussed in the context of efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The paper concludes that the incorporation of administrative (monitoring and enforcement) costs and residual pollution costs into theoretical models can greatly enhance the utility of those models for environmental policy making.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 18

Keywords: environment, taxes, tradable quotas, nontradable quotas

JEL Classification: K32, Q28

working papers series





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Date posted: July 10, 2001  

Suggested Citation

Cole, Daniel H. and Grossman, Peter Z., Toward a Total-Cost Approach to Environmental Instrument Choice (June 23, 2001). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=274768 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.274768

Contact Information

Daniel H. Cole
Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )
211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States
Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs ( email )
1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Indiana University Bloomington - Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis ( email )
Indiana University Bloomington
Bloomington, IN
United States
(812) 855-4421 (Phone)
Peter Z. Grossman (Contact Author)
Butler University - College of Business Administration ( email )
Indianapolis, IN 46208
United States
317-940-9727 (Phone)
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