Ökologie, individuelle Freiheit und wirtschaftliches Wachstum: Umweltpolitik in der sozialen Marktwirtschaft
In reviewing Environmental Policy in the Federal Republic of Germany, one notices a domination of interventionist approaches in the most important areas. This contribution sheds light upon those economic conceptions opposing the command-and- control approach to environmental policy. Currently, the socalled Ecological Economics is discussed as an alternative to the Neoclassic Welfare Economics and the Institutional Economics. However, it is subject to extensive critique and - according to the author should be rejected as a reference point for governmental environmental policy. In the case of the Social Market Economy (Soziale Marktwirtschaft), an environmental policy that sets an institutional framework of general rules (Umweltordnungspolitik), should be preferred. This concept aims at the efficient use of scarce environmental resources. First of all, this requires an integration of environmental usage into the economic system. Thus, depending on the transaction costs, suitable solutions, i.e.effluent fees, licences etc., must be found. Moreover, numerous public environmental goods can be characterized as public goods with a spatially limited (local, national, international, etc. ) dimension. In this case, an institutional competition between regional units providing regional public goods on the basis of fiscal equivalence can bring about two positive results. Firstly, it ensures conservation of environmental goods in accordance with the preferences of the citizens, and secondly, it promotes innovation. This competitive approach outlined is dependant on individual preferences. In the context of environmental externatilities and public environmental goods, this concept may in some cases prove to be inadequate to secure the long-term ecological equilibrium and a sustainable development. Therefore, some particular restrictions of full discretion might be necessary. By analysing these restrictions it appears that the conservation of essential and non-substitutional resources (Safe-Minimum-Standard) can be individualistically justified.
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