IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Market-Based Environmental Policies


  • Stavins, Robert


Some eighty years ago, economists first proposed the use of corrective taxes to internalize environmental and other externalities. Fifty years later, the portfolio of potential economic-incentive instruments was expanded to include quantity-based mechanisms--tradable permits. Thus, economic-incentive approaches to environmental protection are clearly not a new policy idea, and over the past two decades, they have held varying degrees of prominence in environmental policy discussions. This paper summarizes U.S. experiences with such market-based policy instruments, including: pollution charges; deposit-refund systems; tradable permits; market barrier reductions; and government subsidy reductions. No particular form of government intervention, no individual policy instrument--whether market-based or conventional--is appropriate for all environmental problems. Which instrument is best in any given situation depends upon a variety of characteristics of the environmental problem, and the social, political, and economic context in which it is being regulated. There is no policy panacea. Indeed, the real challenge for bureaucrats, elected officials, and other participants in the environmental policy process comes in analyzing and then selecting the best instrument for each situation that arises.

Suggested Citation

  • Stavins, Robert, 1998. "Market-Based Environmental Policies," RFF Working Paper Series dp-98-26, Resources for the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-98-26

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Fletcher, Jerald, 1999. "Watershed Economics: Resource Valuation Issues," Western Region Archives 321705, Western Region - Western Extension Directors Association (WEDA).
    2. MAHENC Philippe, 2008. "Persuasive Subsidies in a Clean Environment," LERNA Working Papers 08.02.246, LERNA, University of Toulouse.
    3. Milt, Austin W. & Armsworth, Paul R., 2017. "Performance of a cap and trade system for managing environmental impacts of shale gas surface infrastructure," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 399-406.
    4. Bovenberg, A. Lans & Goulder, Lawrence H., 2002. "Environmental taxation and regulation," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 23, pages 1471-1545, Elsevier.
    5. A. Myrick Freeman III, 2002. "Environmental Policy Since Earth Day I: What Have We Gained?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(1), pages 125-146, Winter.
    6. Blackman, Allen & Harrington, Winston, 1999. "The Use of Economic Incentives in Developing Countries: Lessons from International Experience with Industrial Air Pollution," Discussion Papers 10601, Resources for the Future.
    7. Fischer, Carolyn, 2008. "Emissions pricing, spillovers, and public investment in environmentally friendly technologies," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 487-502, March.
    8. Olmstead, Sheila M. & Stavins, Robert N., 2008. "Comparing Price and Non-price Approaches to Urban Water Conservation," RFF Working Paper Series dp-08-22, Resources for the Future.
    9. Gramig, Ben M. & Skees, Jerry R. & Black, J. Roy, 2004. "Utilizing Contingent Claims to Improve the Management of CAFOs," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 36(2), pages 297-312, August.
    10. Paul R. Portney, 2000. "Environmental Problems and Policy: 2000-2050," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(1), pages 199-206, Winter.
    11. Wadud, Zia, 2011. "Personal tradable carbon permits for road transport: Why, why not and who wins?," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 45(10), pages 1052-1065.
    12. Hurley, Sean P. & Kliebenstein, James B., 2005. "An Examination of Additively Separable Willingness-To-Pay for Environmental Attributes: Evidence from a Pork Experiment," 2005 Annual meeting, July 24-27, Providence, RI 19370, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    13. Hahn, Robert W., 2000. "The Impact of Economics on Environmental Policy," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 375-399, May.
    14. Delmas, Magali & Marcus, Alfred, 2003. "Firms' Choice of Regulation Instruments to Reduce Pollution: A Tansaction Cost Approach," Research Papers 1806, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    15. Burtraw, Dallas, 2000. "Innovation Under the Tradable Sulfur Dioxide Emission Permits Program in the U.S. Electricity Sector," RFF Working Paper Series dp-00-38, Resources for the Future.
    16. Skees, Jerry R. & Black, J. Roy & Gramig, Benjamin M., 2003. "CONSIDERING MARKET-BASED ALTERNATIVES TO IMPROVE THE MANAGEMENT OF CAFOs," 2003 Annual meeting, July 27-30, Montreal, Canada 22248, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    17. Fischer, Carolyn & Parry, Ian W. H. & Pizer, William A., 2003. "Instrument choice for environmental protection when technological innovation is endogenous," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 523-545, May.
    18. Caginalp, Gunduz & Porter, David & Smith, Vernon, 2000. "Momentum and overreaction in experimental asset markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 187-204, January.
    19. Plevin, Richard J. & Delucchi, Mark A. & O’Hare, Michael, 2017. "Fuel carbon intensity standards may not mitigate climate change," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 93-97.
    20. Denise Trebes, 2017. "Die Einführung von marktbasierten Maßnahmen zur Emissionsbegrenzung im internationalen Flugverkehr unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Beschlüsse des ICAO," Discussion Paper Series RECAP15 27, RECAP15, European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder), revised May 2018.
    21. Boisvert, Valérie, 2015. "Conservation banking mechanisms and the economization of nature: An institutional analysis," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 15(C), pages 134-142.
    22. Cristina Ciocirlan & Bruce Yandle, 2003. "The Political Economy of Green Taxation in OECD Countries," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 203-218, May.
    23. Slaev, Aleksandar D. & Alexander, Ernest R. & Zdravkov, Zdravko & Ivanov, Valeri & Georgieva, Snezhina, 2022. "Market tools for the provision of urban green spaces in post-socialist Sofia," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 122(C).
    24. Parry, Ian & Pizer, William & Fischer, Carolyn, 2000. "How Important is Technological Innovation in Protecting the Environment?," RFF Working Paper Series dp-00-15, Resources for the Future.
    25. Moeltner, Klaus & van Kooten, G. Cornelis, 2003. "Voluntary Environmental Action and Export Destinations: The Case of Forest Certification," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 28(2), pages 1-14.

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-98-26. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Resources for the Future (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.