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RFF-USA

2016-08-09

Coevolving Relationships between Political Science and Economics

Abstract: During the last 50 years, at least four interdisciplinary developments have occurred at the boundaries of political science and economics that have affected the central ques- tions that both political scientists and economists ask, the empirical evidence amassed as a new foundation for understanding political economies, and new questions for fu- ture research. These include: (1) the Public Choice Approach, (2) the Governance of the Commons debate, (3) New Institutional Economics, and (4) Behavioral Approaches to Ex- plaining Human Actions.

2016-06-28

An Analysis of Costs and Health Co-Benefits for a U.S. Power Plant Carbon Standard

Abstract: Reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants can have important "co-benefits" for public health by reducing emissions of air pollutants. Here, we examine the costs and health co-benefits, in monetary terms, for a policy that resembles the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan. We then examine the spatial distribution of the co-benefits and costs, and the implications of a range of cost assumptions in the implementation year of 2020.

2016-06-02

Optimal Management of Environmental Externalities with Time Lags and Uncertainty

Many environmental externalities occur with time lags that can range from a few days to several centuries in length, and many of these externalities are also subject to uncertainty. In this paper, we examine the key features of an optimal policy to manage environmental externalities that are both lagged and stochastic.We develop a two-period, twopolluter model and obtain closed-form solutions for optimal emissions levels under different combinations of damage functions and stochastic processes.

2016-01-21

Fairness versus Efficiency: How Procedural Fairness Concerns Affect Coordination

What happens if a mechanism that aims at improving coordination between individuals treats selected individuals unfairly? We investigate in a laboratory experiment whether procedural fairness concerns affect how well individuals are able to solve a coordination problem in a two-player Volunteer's Dilemma. Subjects receive external action recommendations that can help them avoid miscoordination if followed by both players.

2015-12-10

Direct and Indirect Effects of Extreme Weather Events and Potential Estimation Biases

The literature analyzing the effects of extreme weather events on social and economic outcomes has increased significantly in the last few years. Most of these analyses use either self-reported data about whether the storm affected the respondent or aggregated data such as precipitation at municipality level. We argue that these estimates might be biased due to the inclusion of households that are not directly affected but live close enough to be indirectly affected through economic or government assistance spillovers.

2015-10-09

Quota Compliance in TURFs: An Experimental Analysis on Complementarities of Formal and Informal Enforcement with Changes in Abundance

We explore the effects of different enforcement mechanisms, including formal (external), informal (local), and both together, on individual compliance behavior under a system of territorial use rights in fisheries (TURFs). Our design considers different stock abundance levels and the effect that such differences may exert on extraction decisions and compliance behavior. The analysis is based on a framed field experiment conducted with artisanal fishers in central-southern Chile.

2015-08-20

Effects of Wildlife Resources on Community Welfare: Income, Poverty and Inequality

This paper demonstrates the importance of wildlife in the portfolio of environmental income in the livelihoods of poor rural communities living adjacent to a national park. The results show that wealthier households consume more wildlife products in total than do relatively poor households. However, poorer households derive greater proportional benefit than wealthier households from the consumption of wildlife resources. Excluding wildlife understates the relative contribution of environmental resources while at the same time overstating the relative contribution of farm and wage income.

2015-08-20

Gender Differences in Climate Change Risk, Food Security, and Adaptation: A Study of Rural Households’ Reliance on Agriculture and Natural Resources to Sustain Livelihoods

Climate and weather variability in sub-Saharan Africa disproportionately leave female-headed households food insecure. However, the extent and reasons for these gender differences are, thus far, not well understood. This study examines gender-food-climate connections using longitudinal data from rural households in north-eastern South Africa. Results confirm gender distinctions in that male-headed households are more food secure. Importantly, however, female-headed households are not a homogenous group.

2015-05-29

A Contingent Valuation Approach to Estimating Regulatory Costs: Mexico’s Day Without Driving Program

Little is known about the cost of environmental regulations such as residential zoning restrictions and recycling mandates that target households instead of firms, partly because of significant methodological and data challenges. We use a survey-based approach, the contingent valuation method, to measure the costs of Mexico City’s Day Without Driving program, which seeks to stem pollution and traffic congestion by prohibiting vehicles from being driven one day each week.

2015-03-25

A Proximate Mirror: Greenhouse Gas Rules and Strategic Behavior under the US Clean Air Act

The development of climate policy in the United States mirrors international developments, with efforts to initiate a coordinated approach giving way to jurisdictions separately taking actions. The centerpiece of US policy is regulation in the electricity sector that identifies a carbon emissions rate standard (intensity standard) for each state but leaves to states the design of policies, including potentially the use of technology policies, emissions rate averaging, or cap and trade.

2015-03-25

Paper Park Performance: Mexico’s Natural Protected Areas in the 1990s

Although developing countries have established scores of new protected areas over the past three decades, they often amount to little more than “paper parks” that are chronically short of the financial, human, and technical resources needed for effective management. It is not clear whether and how severely under-resourced parks affect deforestation. In principle, they could either stem it by, for example, creating an expectation of future enforcement, or they could spur it by, for example, creating open access regimes.

2015-03-01

Efficiency Costs of Social Objectives in Tradable Permit Programs

Objectives of tradable permit programs are often broader than internalizing an externality and improving economic efficiency. Many programs are designed to accommodate community, cultural, and other non-efficiency goals through restrictions on trading. However, restrictions can decrease economic efficiency gains. We use a policy experiment from the Alaska halibut and sablefish tradable permit program, which includes both restricted and unrestricted permits, to develop one of the few empirical measurements of the costs of meeting non-efficiency goals.

2015-02-14

Strict versus Mixed Use Protected Areas: Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve

Although protected areas, or “parks”, are among the leading policy tools used to stem tropical deforestation, rigorous evaluations of their effectiveness—that is, evaluations that control for their tendency to be sited in remote areas with relatively little deforestation—have only recently begun to appear. Important open questions concern the link between the stringency of protection and park effectiveness. How do mixed-use parks that allow sustainable extractive activities perform relative to strictly protected parks? And what types of mixed-use management perform best?

2014-08-15

The Environment for Development Initiative: lessons learned in research, academic capacity building and policy intervention to manage resources for sustainable growth

This article reviews the history of the Environment for Development (EfD) initiative, its activities in capacity building and policy-oriented research, and case studies at its centres in Chile, China, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania.

2014-07-01

Does Tourism Eco-Certification Pay? Costa Rica’s Blue Flag Program

According to advocates, eco-certification can stem environmental damages from tourism in developing countries. Yet we know little about tourism operators’ economic incentives to get certified. To help fill that gap, we use detailed panel data to analyze the Blue Flag beach certification program in Costa Rica where nature-based tourism has caused significant environmental damage. We use new hotel investment to proxy for private benefits, and fixed effects and propensity score matching to control for self-selection bias.

2014-06-12

Effects of Protected Areas on Forest Cover Change and Local Communities Evidence from the Peruvian Amazon

Protected areas are a cornerstone of forest conservation in developing countries. Yet we know little about their effects on forest cover change or the socioeconomic status of local communities, and even less about the relationship between these effects. This paper assesses whether “win-win” scenarios are possible—that is, whether protected areas can both stem forest cover change and alleviate poverty. We examine protected areas in the Peruvian Amazon using high-resolution satellite images and household-level survey data for the early 2000s.

2014-06-06

Biodiversity Conservation in Latin America and the Caribbean: Prioritizing Policies

Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region is exceptionally biodiverse. It contains about half of the world's remaining tropical forests, nearly one-fifth of its coastal habitats, and some of its most productive agricultural and marine areas. But agriculture, fishing and other human activities linked to rapid population and economic growth increasingly threaten that biodiversity. Moreover, poverty, weak regulatory capacity, and limited political will hamper conservation.

2014-03-01

Benefits of the Ballot Box for Species Conservation

Recent estimates reaffirm that conservation funds are insufficient to meet biodiversity conservation goals.  Organizations focused on biodiversity conservation therefore need to capitalize on investments that societies make in environmental protection that provide ancillary benefits to biodiversity. Here, we undertake the first assessment of the potential ancillary benefits from the ballot box in the United States, where citizens vote on referenda to conserve lands for reasons that may not include biodiversity directly but that indirectly might enhance biodiversity conservation.

2014-03-01

Two world views on carbon revenues

The introduction of a price on CO2 is expected to be more efficient than prescriptive regulation. It also instantiates substantial economic value. Initially, programs allocated this value to incumbent firms (grandfathering), but the growing movement toward auctioning or emissions fees makes carbon revenues into a payment for environmental services. This paper asks to whom should this payment accrue?

2014-02-09

Voluntary environmental agreements in developing countries: the Colombian experience

Voluntary agreements (VAs) negotiated between environmental regulators and polluters are increasingly popular in developing countries. According to proponents, they can sidestep weak institutions and other pervasive barriers to conventional mandatory regulation in such countries. Yet little is known about the drivers of their use and their effectiveness in poor countries. The considerable literature on voluntary initiatives in industrialized countries, where both VAs and socioeconomic conditions differ, may not apply.

2013-11-23

Environmental Policy in the Presence of an Informal Sector

We demonstrate how the presence of an untaxed informal sector can sharply lower the cost of environmental and energy tax policy. The mechanism involves substitution between formal and informal labor supply: energy or environmental taxes can improve the efficiency of the tax system by drawing activity into the formal sector.

2013-09-19

Evaluating forest conservation policies in developing countries using remote sensing data: An introduction and practical guide

Rigorous, objective evaluation of forest conservation policies in developing countries is needed to ensure that the limited financial, human, and political resources devoted to these policies are put to good use. Yet such evaluations remain uncommon. Recent advances in conservation best practices, the widening availability of high-resolution remotely sensed forest-cover data, and the dissemination of geographic information system capacity have created significant opportunities to reverse this trend.

2012-12-09

Does Ecocertification in Developing Countries Boost Compliance? ISO 14001 Certification in Mexico

Private sector initiatives certifying that producers of goods and services adhere to defined environmental process standards are increasingly popular worldwide. According to proponents, they can circumvent chronic barriers to effective public sector environmental regulation in developing countries. But eco-certification programs will have limited effects on producers’ environmental performance if, as one would expect, they select for those already meeting certification standards. Rigorous evaluations of the environmental effects of eco-certification in developing countries that control for selection bias are rare.

2012-11-09

Does eco-certification have environmental benefits? Organic coffee in Costa Rica

Eco-certification of coffee, timber and other high-value agricultural commodities is increasingly widespread. In principle, it can improve commodity producers' environmental performance, even in countries where state regulation is weak. But eco-certification will have limited environmental benefits if, as one would expect, it disproportionately selects for producers already meeting certification standards.

2012-08-13

Global economic potential for reducing carbon dioxide

Mangroves are among themost threatened and rapidly disappearing natural environments worldwide. In addition to supporting a wide range of other ecological and economic functions, mangroves store considerable carbon. Here, we consider the global economic potential for protecting mangroves based exclusively on their carbon.

2012-05-15

Environmental Policy and Political Realities: Fisheries Management and Job Creation in the Pacific Islands

Effective environmental policymaking requires an understanding of how environmental goals interact with other political goals. This article analyzes development strategies in the PICT’s, where policymakers aim to leverage tuna resources into sustainable economic development and job creation. The authors develop a model that analyzes costs and benefits of different development strategies, with a focus on job creation and local socioeconomic factors that drive optimal policy mixes across PICTs.

2012-04-30

Climate Policy, Uncertainty, and the Role of Technological Innovation

We study how uncertainty about climate change severity affects the relative benefits of early abatement and a portfolio of research and development (R&D) in lowering future abatement costs. Optimal early abatement depends on the curvature of the marginal benefit and marginal abatement cost (MAC) functions and how the uncertain parameter affects marginal benefits.

2012-04-30

How Should Support for Climate-Friendly Technologies Be Designed?

Stabilizing global greenhouse gas concentrations at levels to avoid significant climate risks will require massive ‘‘decarbonization’’ of all the major economies over the next few decades, in addition to the reduced emissions from other GHGs and carbon sequestration. Achieving the necessary scale of emissions reductions will require a multifaceted policy effort to support a broad array of technological and behavioral changes. Change on this scale will require sound, well-thought-out strategies.

2012-01-24

2011 RFF Activities in COMMONS research program

This report, 2011 Resources for the Future (RFF) Activities in Human Cooperation to Manage Natural Resources (COMMONS) program funded by the Swedish Research Council, Formas, contains an introductory section, and four sections reporting on use of funds by Allen Blackman, Dallas Burtraw, Alan Krupnick, and Juha Siikamaki.

2011-11-30

What Drives Voluntary Eco-Certification in Mexico?

Advocates claim that voluntary programs can help shore up poorly performing command-and-control environmental regulation in developing countries. Although literature on this issue is quite thin, research on voluntary environmental programs in industrialized countries suggests that they are sometimes ineffective because they mainly attract relatively clean plants free-riding on prior pollution control investments.

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