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Book Review Of Principles Of Environmental And Resource Economics

972 words - 4 pages

Book review

Folmer H, Gabel HL: Principles of environmental and resource economics: A guide for students and decision-makers
CAIS MAIN (Level 1) HC79 E5 P957

This book consists of 22 contributed chapters that provide an excellent introduction to important topics in the field of environmental and resource economics. The contributors consist of many leading scholars in the field. The book is explicitly targeted as a teaching tool for upper-level undergraduates as well as a reference for practitioners and researchers. In my view, another niche for which the book is particularly suited is graduate programs in environ-mental policy, business administration, or combinations of both. The book is organized into three parts: General environmental economics, Business environmental economics, and selected topics.

The first part, General environmental economics, covers fundamentals of the field. Chapter one sets the stage for environmental problems with a discussion of markets and market failure. Correcting these failures inevitably involves economic valuation. Accordingly, the next two chapters address theoretical and empirical issues related to valuing the environment. How then are actual policy decisions made? A chapter on benefit-cost analysis provides some guidance, while another chapter on principles of environmental policy shows how the answer involves consideration of effectiveness and equity. It is argued, nevertheless, that economic analysis provides an important and influential guide for policymakers. The next chapter shows this with a comparison of different policy instruments, such as standards, taxes, and tradable permits. The final chapter demonstrates how economy-wide models are useful for forecasting economic impacts of different environmental policies.

A collective strength of these chapters is an appreciation for the role of economic analysis in forming environmental policy. Indeed, the economic approach is central to environmental policy, but in the real world, it is not the only approach. Many of the authors discuss their subject matter with this context in mind. Examples range from ethics and benefit-cost analysis to questioning whether economists even contribute to environmental-policy debates. The result of this approach is a reflective perspective on fundamentals of the discipline that is rarely found in other texts.

The second part, Business environmental economics, truly distinguishes this book from others. The first chapter makes the important point that firms do not simply react to exogenous changes in environmental policy rather firms play an important role in the policy-making process. Whether firms lend support or generate opposition, the authors demonstrate how understanding incentives and behaviors of firms is essential for understanding policy formation, in addition to policy consequences. Even outside the regulatory environment, subsequent chapters emphasize the need for a deeper understanding of what...

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