Speaker: Dr. Kenneth R. Richards is the James Martin Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Martin School. He is on leave from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University, Bloomington Indiana where he teaches environmental economics, energy law, cost-benefit analysis, and climate change policy. During his visit to Oxford he is working on a book manuscript focusing on comparative international environmental policy instrument choice.
Summary: How can academics working in the environmental sciences make their research meaningful to policy audiences? What tools do policy makers use in implementing policy to address environmental challenges? How do they assess their success? Is there a role for academics in this process?
The environmental policy making process involves two conceptually distinct, but practically integrated, steps: 1) policy goal setting and 2) policy implementation. While the former focuses on targets for the quality of the environment (e.g., emissions targets and ambient pollution levels), the latter focuses on the methods by which the government seeks to change behaviour and decisions that affect the environment.
Governments rely on a variety of policy tools, such as emissions fees, contracts, performance standards, and marketable allowances to implement policies that seek to change behaviour. Historically, the standard microeconomic analyses of environmental policy instrument choice focused on the dichotomy between incentive-based instruments and command-and-control regulation. These generally favoured the former because of their cost-effectiveness advantages. However, a rich normative analysis must recognize a broader array of policy instruments and apply a wider range of evaluation criteria.
This presentation will outline a conceptual framework for environmental policy implementation. It aims to enrich the standard microeconomic analysis with concepts drawing on public finance, New Institutional Economics, public management, constitutional and regulatory law, and political economics. In place of the standard ad hoc evaluation criteria, the framework employs a conceptual constrained cost minimization approach. The framework also recognizes a broad range of policy instruments and describes a unique taxonomy for organizing those instruments.
Richards will show how an integrated policy instrument framework is useful for identifying key issues in environmental policy design, as well as for comparing instrument choice across environmental applications and among government contexts. Through this analysis, Richards will show how academics can play a role in helping governments to understand and develop the most effective policy instruments for influencing behaviour. The presentation will be of particular interest to researchers in the social and natural sciences, engineering and law who are working connections between government action and environmental protection.