nep-res New Economics Papers
on Resource Economics
Issue of 2012‒01‒03
three papers chosen by
Maximo Rossi
Universidad de la Republica

  1. The evolution of environmental thinking in economics By Halkos, George
  2. Deposit-Refund Systems in Practice and Theory By Walls, Margaret
  3. The Private and Public Economics of Renewable Electricity Generation By Severin Borenstein

  1. By: Halkos, George
    Abstract: This paper discusses the development of environmental economics from the Industrial Revolution in Europe to today. Specifically, it comments on the general similarities and differences between the representatives of the schools of economic thought concerning the environment. Among others, the issues of scarcity of natural resources, of population growth as well as the limits to growth are discussed and the various views are presented. The paper also comments on the trends of environmental, evolutionary and ecological economics.
    Keywords: Naturla resource scarcity; limits to growth; environmental economics
    JEL: N54 B12 B14 O13 B13 N53
    Date: 2011
  2. By: Walls, Margaret (Resources for the Future)
    Abstract: A deposit-refund system combines a tax on product consumption with a rebate when the product or its packaging is returned for recycling. Deposit-refunds are used for beverage containers, lead-acid batteries, motor oil, tires, various hazardous materials, electronics, and more. In addition, researchers have shown that the approach can be used to address many other environmental problems beyond waste disposal. By imposing an up-front fee on consumption and subsidizing “green” inputs and mitigation activities, a deposit-refund may be able to efficiently control pollution in much the same way as a Pigovian tax. Theoretical models have shown that alternative waste disposal policies, such as virgin materials taxes, advance disposal fees, recycled content standards, and recycling subsidies are inferior to a deposit-refund. These results have been corroborated in calibrated models of U.S. waste and recycling. And in theoretical models that consider joint environmental problems and product design considerations, the deposit-refund continues to have much to recommend it as a component of an overall socially optimal set of policies. More empirical research into deposit-refund systems is needed, particularly the upstream systems used for many products. In these systems, the processors or collectors of recyclables—rather than consumers—receive the refund. Upstream systems may have lower transaction costs and better environmental outcomes than traditional downstream systems.
    Keywords: deposit-refund, waste disposal, recycling, source reduction, illegal dumping, Pigovian tax, advance disposal fee, upstream pollution, design for environment
    JEL: H23 Q53 Q58
    Date: 2011–11–23
  3. By: Severin Borenstein
    Abstract: Generating electricity from renewable sources is more expensive than conventional approaches, but reduces pollution externalities. Analyzing the tradeoff is much more challenging than often presumed, because the value of electricity is extremely dependent on the time and location at which it is produced, which is not very controllable with some renewables, such as wind and solar. Likewise, the pollution benefits from renewable generation depend on what type of generation it displaces, which also depends on time and location. Without incorporating these factors, cost-benefit analyses of alternatives are likely to be misleading. However, other common arguments for subsidizing renewable power – green jobs, energy security and driving down fossil energy prices – are unlikely to substantially alter the analysis. The role of intellectual property spillovers is a strong argument for subsidizing energy science research, but less persuasive as an enhancement to the value of installing current renewable energy technologies.
    JEL: L94 Q42 Q48
    Date: 2011–12

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