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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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  • Athanassoglou, Stergios & Xepapadeas, Anastasios, 2012. "Pollution control with uncertain stock dynamics: When, and how, to be precautious," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 304-320.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:63:y:2012:i:3:p:304-320 DOI: 10.1016/j.jeem.2011.11.001
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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. Brock, W. & Xepapadeas, A., 2017. "Climate change policy under polar amplification," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 93-112.
    3. Anton Bondarev & Frank C. Krysiak, 2017. "Robust policy schemes for R&D games with asymmetric information," Working papers 2017/14, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
    4. Geoffrey Heal, Anthony Millner, 2017. "Uncertainty and ambiguity in environmental economics: conceptual issues," GRI Working Papers 278, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    5. W. A. Brock & A. Xepapadeas, 2015. "Modeling Coupled Climate, Ecosystems, and Economic Systems," Working Papers 2015.66, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    6. Stergios Athanassoglou & Valentina Bosetti, 2015. "Setting Environmental Policy When Experts Disagree," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 61(4), pages 497-516, August.
    7. Edilio Valentini & Paolo Vitale, 2014. "Optimal Climate Policy for a Pessimistic Social Planner," Working Papers 2014.33, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    8. Anton Bondarev & Frank C. Krysiak, 2017. "Temporary and permanent technology lock-ins in the quality-differentiated Bertrand competition," Working papers 2017/09, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
    9. Hassan Benchekroun & Farnaz Taherkhani, 2014. "Adaptation and the Allocation of Pollution Reduction Costs," Dynamic Games and Applications, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 32-57, March.
    10. Mark Kagan, 2012. "Climate Change Skepticism in the Face of Catastrophe," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 12-112/VIII, Tinbergen Institute, revised 29 Sep 2014.
    11. 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.
    12. Hassan Benchekroun & Amrita Ray Chaudhuri, 2015. "Cleaner Technologies and the Stability of International Environmental Agreements," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 17(6), pages 887-915, December.
    13. W.A. Brock & A. Xepapadeas & A.N. Yannacopoulos, 2014. "Optimal Control in Space and Time and the Management of Environmental Resources," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 33-68, October.
    14. Da-Rocha, Jose-Maria & García-Cutrin, Javier & Gutierrez, Maria Jose, 2016. "Harvesting Control Rules that deal with Scientific Uncertainty," MPRA Paper 72059, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Athanasios Yannacopoulos & Anastasios Xepapadeas, "undated". "Climate Change Policy under Spatially Structured Ambiguity: Hot Spots and the Precautionary Principle," DEOS Working Papers 1332, Athens University of Economics and Business.
    16. Loic Berger & Massimo Marinacci, 2017. "Model Uncertainty in Climate Change Economics," Working Papers 616, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    17. William Brock & Anastasios Xepapadeas & Athanasios Yannacopoulos, "undated". "Robust Control of a Spatially Distributed Commercial Fishery," DEOS Working Papers 1303, Athens University of Economics and Business.
    18. Benchekroun, Hassan & Ray Chaudhuri, Amrita, 2014. "Transboundary pollution and clean technologies," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 601-619.
    19. Heyen, Daniel & Goeschl, Timo & Wiesenfarth , Boris, 2015. "Risk Assessment under Ambiguity: Precautionary Learning vs. Research Pessimism," Working Papers 0605, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
    20. Geoffrey Heal & Antony Millner, 2015. "Should climate policy account for ambiguity?," GRI Working Papers 202, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    21. Di Bartolomeo Giovanni & Saltari Enrico & Semmler Willi, 2017. "Inattention and pollution regulation policies," wp.comunite 00130, Department of Communication, University of Teramo.

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