Journal Article

The assessment: environmental policy objectives, instruments, and institutions

D Helm

in Oxford Review of Economic Policy

Published on behalf of The Oxford Review of Economic Policy Ltd

Volume 14, issue 4, pages 1-19
Published in print December 1998 | ISSN: 0266-903X
Published online December 1998 | e-ISSN: 1460-2121 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxrep/14.4.1
The assessment: environmental policy objectives, instruments, and institutions

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The article provides a critique of British environmental policy, focusing in particular on the role of sustainable development as an organizing principle, the use of cost benefit analysis (CBA) and economic instruments, and the design of the institutions responsible for implementing policy. It is argued that, while considerable progress has been made in the theoretical literature to define sustainable development, successive governments in the UK have widened the definition to the point where it provides little guidance for policy. Obstacles to the use of CBA are discussed, as are the political constraints on implementing economic instruments in particular, the income effect. Finally, it is argued that the institutional design of the Environment Agency and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions partly explains the overwhelming reliance on command-and-control regulation.

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Subjects: Economic Development and Growth ; Public Economics ; Political Economy ; Public Policy

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