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Environmental values - what’s the point?

  • Holstein, Fredrik
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    Environmental policy aims at preserving environmental values. But what is the point… i) of the concept of environmental values and ii) of environmental values that will actually be reached? This thesis focuses on both these questions. Setting an environmental target requires a, implicit or explicit, trade-off between values. Even though economics offers a theoretical foundation as well as methods for this, it might be argued that other values should be considered. Paper I investigates the meaning of, and relation between, different value related terms. The value perspective is crucial: biological objects might have an economic value whereas biological values, interpreted as intrinsic, are incommensurable with economic values. Paper II discusses potential implications of differences between the value perspectives asserted by respondents of stated preference (SP) surveys and the perspective implied by the valuation question. It is concluded that implied and asserted rights are incompatible in most of the potential situations and that this offers a coherent explanation to anomalies often found in SP-surveys. Paper III and IV apply econometric tools for explaining why firms violate or comply with environmental regulations. In both studies it is shown that the frequency of inspections are important to encourage compliance. In Paper III results from non-parametric methods revealed that smaller, and less environmentally harmful, firms have higher frequency of violation in the absence of inspections but that they increase their compliance more as a response to increased inspection frequency. In none of the papers it can be excluded that the inspections affect behaviour both through the deterrent effect and by the increased knowledge following from the information from the inspectors. In Paper IV is the potential effect of social capital and environmental consciousness in focus. It is shown that the effect social capital, measured as trust, has on compliance is non-linear and partly negative. A possible explanation to this counter-intuitive result is that trust, in a naïve form, is exploited by firms governed by calculated rather than social or normative motives.

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    File URL: http://pub.epsilon.slu.se/2205/
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    Paper provided by Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Economics in its series Department of Economics publications with number 2205.

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    Date of creation: 2009
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    Handle: RePEc:sua:ekonwp:2205
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