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Pollution control with uncertain stock dynamics: When, and how, to be precautious

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  • Athanassoglou, Stergios
  • Xepapadeas, Anastasios

Abstract

The precautionary principle (PP) applied to environmental policy stipulates that, in the presence of uncertainty, society must take robust preventive action to guard against worst-case outcomes. It follows that the higher the degree of uncertainty, the more aggressive this preventive action should be. This normative maxim is explored in the case of a stylized dynamic model of pollution control with uncertain (in the Knightian sense) stock dynamics, using the robust control framework of Hansen and Sargent [12]. Optimal investment in damage control is found to be increasing in the degree of uncertainty, thus confirming the conventional PP wisdom. Optimal mitigation decisions, however, need not always comport with the PP. In particular, when damage-control investment is both sufficiently cheap and sensitive to changes in uncertainty, damage-control investment and mitigation may act as substitutes and a PP with respect to the latter can be unambiguously irrational. The theoretical results are applied to a calibrated linear-quadratic model of climate change. The analysis suggests that a reversal of the PP with respect to mitigation, while theoretically possible, is very unlikely.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Environmental Economics and Management.

Volume (Year): 63 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 304-320

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:63:y:2012:i:3:p:304-320

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622870

Related research

Keywords: Knightian uncertainty; Robust control; Precautionary principle; Pollution control; Stock dynamics;

References

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  1. Thomas J. Sargent & Riccardo Colacito & Lars P. Hansen & Timothy Cogley, 2008. "Robustness and US Monetary," 2008 Meeting Papers 228, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Thomas J. Sargent & LarsPeter Hansen, 2001. "Robust Control and Model Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 60-66, May.
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  8. TREICH Nicolas, 2008. "The value of a Statistical Life under Ambiguity Aversion," LERNA Working Papers 08.05.249, LERNA, University of Toulouse.
  9. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Maxmin expected utility with non-unique prior," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-153, April.
  10. Vardas, Giannis & XEPAPADEAS, Anastasios, 2008. "Model Uncertainty, Ambiguity and the Precautionary Principle: Implications for Biodiversity Management," MPRA Paper 10236, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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  12. Martin L. Weitzman, 2009. "On Modeling and Interpreting the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 1-19, February.
  13. Catarina Roseta-Palma & Anastasios Xepapadeas, 2004. "Robust Control in Water Management," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 29(1), pages 21-34, 07.
  14. Larry G. Epstein & Martin Schneider, 2001. "Recursive Multiple-Priors," RCER Working Papers 485, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  15. Takao Asano, 2010. "Precautionary Principle and the Optimal Timing of Environmental Policy Under Ambiguity," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 47(2), pages 173-196, October.
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  18. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J. & Turmuhambetova, Gauhar & Williams, Noah, 2006. "Robust control and model misspecification," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 128(1), pages 45-90, May.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Konstantinos Angelopoulos & George Economides & Apostolis Philippopoulos, 2012. "Public Good Provision with Robust Decision Making," CESifo Working Paper Series 3996, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. William Brock & Anastasios Xepapadeas & Athanasios Yannacopoulos, . "Robust Control of a Spatially Distributed Commercial Fishery," DEOS Working Papers 1303, Athens University of Economics and Business.
  3. Amigues, Jean-Pierre & Moreaux, Michel, 2012. "Potential Irreversible Catastrophic Shifts of the Assimilative Capacity of the Environment," TSE Working Papers 12-276, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  4. Hassan Benchekroun & Farnaz Taherkhani, 2013. "Adaptation and the Allocation of Pollution Reduction Costs," Cahiers de recherche 03-2013, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  5. Benchekroun, Hassan & Ray Chaudhuri, Amrita, 2014. "Transboundary pollution and clean technologies," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 601-619.
  6. Mark Kagan, 2012. "Climate Change Skepticism in the Face of Catastrophe," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 12-112/VIII, Tinbergen Institute.
  7. Xepapadeas, Anastasios & Ralli, Parthenopi & Kougea, Eva & Spyrou, Sofia & Stavropoulos, Nikolaos & Tsiaousi, Vasiliki & Tsivelikas, Athanasios, 2014. "Valuing insurance services emerging from a gene bank: The case of the Greek Gene Bank," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 140-149.
  8. Athanasios Yannacopoulos & Anastasios Xepapadeas, . "Climate Change Policy under Spatially Structured Ambiguity: Hot Spots and the Precautionary Principle," DEOS Working Papers 1332, Athens University of Economics and Business.
  9. William Brock & Anastasios Xepapadeas & Athanasios Yannacopoulos, 2014. "Optimal Control in Space and Time and the Management of Environmental Resources," DEOS Working Papers 1402, Athens University of Economics and Business.
  10. Edilio Valentini & Paolo Vitale, 2014. "Optimal Climate Policy for a Pessimistic Social Planner," Working Papers 2014.33, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  11. repec:dgr:uvatin:2012112 is not listed on IDEAS

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