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Coase pointed out that this issue cannot be resolved until property rights    are clearly defined—that is, the legal rights of ownership on which others are not allowed to infringe without paying compensation. Does the farmer have a property right not to have a field burned? Does the railroad have a property right to run its own trains on its own tracks? If neither party has a property right, then the two sides may squabble endlessly, nothing will be done, and sparks will continue to set the field aflame. However, if either the farmer or the railroad has a well-defined legal responsibility, then that party will seek out and pay for the least costly method of reducing the risk that sparks will hit the field. The property right determines whether the farmer or the railroad pays the bills.

The property rights approach is highly relevant in cases involving endangered species. The U.S. government’s endangered species list includes about 1,000 plants and animals, and about 90% of these species live on privately owned land. The protection of these endangered species requires careful thinking about incentives and property rights. The discovery of an endangered species on private land has often triggered an automatic reaction from the government to prohibit the landowner from using that land for any purpose that might disturb the imperiled creatures. Consider the incentives of that policy: If you admit to the government that you have an endangered species, the government effectively prohibits you from using your land. As a result, rumors abounded of landowners who followed a policy of “shoot, shovel, and shut up” when they found an endangered animal on their land. Other landowners have deliberately cut trees or managed land in a way that they knew would discourage endangered animals from locating there.

How effective are market-oriented environmental policy tools?

Environmentalists sometimes fear that market-oriented environmental tools are an excuse to weaken or eliminate strict limits on pollution emissions and instead to allow more pollution. It is true that if pollution charges are set very low or if marketable permits do not reduce pollution by very much then market-oriented tools will not work well. But command-and-control environmental laws can also be full of loopholes or have exemptions that do not reduce pollution by much, either. The advantage of market-oriented environmental tools is not that they reduce pollution by more or less, but because of their incentives and flexibility, they can achieve any desired reduction in pollution at a lower cost to society.

A more productive policy would consider how to provide private landowners with an incentive to protect the endangered species that they find and to provide a habitat for additional endangered species. For example, the government might pay landowners who provide and maintain suitable habitats for endangered species or who restrict the use of their land to protect an endangered species. Again, an environmental law built on incentives and flexibility offers greater promise than a command-and-control approach, which tries to oversee millions of acres of privately owned land.

Applying market-oriented environmental tools

Market-oriented environmental policies are a tool kit. Specific policy tools will work better in some situations than in others. For example, marketable permits work best when a few dozen or a few hundred parties are highly interested in trading, as in the cases of oil refineries that trade lead permits or electrical utilities that trade sulfur dioxide permits. However, for cases in which millions of users emit small amounts of pollution—such as emissions from car engines or unrecycled soda cans—and have no strong interest in trading, pollution charges will typically offer a better choice. Market-oriented environmental tools can also be combined. Marketable permits can be viewed as a form of improved property rights. Or the government could combine marketable permits with a pollution tax on any emissions not covered by a permit.

Key concepts and summary

Examples of market-oriented environmental policies, also referred to as cap and trade programs, include pollution charges, marketable permits, and better-defined property rights. Market-oriented environmental policies include taxes, markets, and property rights so that those who impose negative externalities must face the social cost.

References

Environmental Protection Agency. “2006 Pay-As-You-Throw Programs.” Accessed December 20, 2013. http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/tools/payt/states/06comm.htm.

Questions & Answers

reason why we study economics
Moruf Reply
what is economics
Tutu Reply
economics is defined as the science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.
Semiat
what is a gross domestic product
Amogelang Reply
Explain what is a production possibility curve
Sharon Reply
A curve that indicates the various production possibilities of two commodities when resources are fixed...
Geoffrey
what is market?
Jasmin Reply
ware the Byers and seller's that please is called market
suresh
a place where buyers and sellers meet
Tariro
I don't like this market definition.
Jasmin
market is any arrangement whereby buyers and sellers are brought together for the purpose of transacting business. It could be a geographical location or any other means such as internet, mobile phone etc. as long as buyers and sellers are brought together for the purpose of exchange.
Agusimba
A market is a place where buyers and sellers buy and sell goods through bargaining.
Jasmin
yes ,you are correct Agusimba sir.
Jasmin
exception of the low of demond
Rohit Reply
short run AC curves?
Jasmin Reply
you mean shirt run cost curves?
REBECCA
A short-run cost curve shows the minimum cost impact of output changes for a specific plant size and in a given operating environment. Such curves reflect the optimal or least-cost input combination for producing output under fixed circumstances.
REBECCA
nooo am not from India why!?
Godwin Reply
Godwin which level of education are you please
Millionaires
millionaires am in SHS 2
Godwin
who was the father of economic ?why?
Mahesh Reply
Rationing and hoarding
Semiat Reply
how do the size of a country's population affect labour force
Evans Reply
a mixed economic system
Ngong Reply
What are the types of price elasticity of demand
Juliana Reply
what are massures to promote geographical mobility of labor?
Ngong
Is to make sure that a labourer to know more about his salary to earn before going to the direction
shehu
types of Price elasticity of demand are fairly elastic demand, fairly inelastic demand, unity demand, perfectly elastic demand and perfectly inelastic demand.
Semiat
what is trade
PHILIPPE Reply
Trade is a basic economic concept involving the buying and selling of goods and services, with compensation paid by a buyer to a seller, or the exchange of goods or services between parties. Trade can take place within an economy between producers and consumers.
Miss
what is fisical policy?
ha Reply
fisical policy or fiscal policy?
Miss
what are.the characteristics of economic goods
Hamis
what are the importance of labour market?
Rachael

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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