2009年から2年間、大学院で環境関連学を専攻するため、イギリスにやって来た私達の話 This blog is about us(U&I) coming to UK in 2009 for Environmental Study at master level for 2 years
by uk-env
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面白い環境経済学 Interesting Environmental Economics

In addition to the assigned essay, the hand-writing exam for Environmental Economics took place yesterday (even on Saturday!). The contents were 1) emission trading system, 2) environmental accounting, 3) uncertainties, 4) cost-benefit analysis, and 5) economic impact of climate change (three topics were chosen). Since around 15 questions including short and long ones should be answered within 2 hours: so that my right hand was terribly exhausted as expected (I don’t like British exams).

Through the study, I re-realised that Environmental Economics (EE) is still a fighting subject against the mainstream economics pursuing market efficiency and current economic welfare. EE has treated non-market environmental value; negative externalities; ethics and intrinsic value often trading off efficiency; uncertainties and risk; sustainability over generation; equity among intergeneration namely income divide, calling for paradigm shift from the mainstream economics (though there is big a question about whether their voices have been adopted).

Thanks to climate change and biodiversity issues, the need for Environmental Economics has been increasing. However, there are loads of things to be launched and achieved because of the limitation of economics (e.g. offset between efficiency and equity; the approval on pricing priceless, value of human live – poorer people’s life is low valued in economics. Look at the Laurence Summers’ memo, who is the former Director of the White House National Economic Council for President Obama) and the limitation of the current scientific knowledge particularly natural science (e.g. the understanding of complexities and interactions of earth system) which is the basis of economic analysis for the environment. To what extent Environmental Economics can move forward must depends on public apprehension of and support for it (these can also be heightened according to academic achievement of EE).

The followings are the interesting topics I have studied.

・不確実性に対する後悔を最小にする対応 Minimal regret policy under uncertainty
気温上昇とその影響を考えた場合、2~3度は高い確率で上昇しますが、例えば10度などはその確率がとても少なくなります。一方で仮にそのような大幅な気温上昇が起きた場合のインパクトは破滅的。これをハーバードの経済学者ウェイツマン(2009)は“太った尻尾”(Fat tail)と呼んでいます。彼によると、世界の気候学者が集まって気候変動の程度と影響を研究するIPCCでもこの太った尻尾の影響が(確率が少ないため)無視されているといい、ノーベル経済学賞のクルーグマン(2009)も、最近の既存研究の予想を超えた気温上昇が見られる(例えば、2010年の気温は1900年の観測以降、過去最高。また、最近の異常気象など)中では、破滅的なリスクを避けるための対応が必要として、ウェイツマンやスターン(2007)の考えに賛成する意向を示しています。このような不確実性に対応して後悔を最小にする対応として、レンパートなど(2004)が提唱する“強健な意思決定”(Robust Decision Making)があり、ここでは、ある対策を考えた時にあらゆる可能性を考慮に入れて、それらに対応できる政策オプションを検討する新しい政策決定モデルです。いずれにせよ、この太い尻尾にもっと気をつける必要があるはずです。
If thinking of the temperature rise and its impact, there is a higher possibility of 2 or 3 degree Celsius rise, 10 degree up is quite unlikely. But if such dynamic rise occurred, its impact would be catastrophic. This is called “fat tail” by Weitzman (2009) – an environmental economist at Harvard, who claims that even IPCC (global climate scientists gathering and researching the probability and the impact of climate change) ignored such fat tail’s existence and its potential impacts. Krugman (2009), a Novel prized economist, agreed with the idea of precautionary response against climate change which Stern (2007) and Weitzman asserted; since the current temperature rise is beyond the expectations of scientists (e.g. temperature in 2010 is the warmest since 1990; and extreme weathers in 2010/2011). To respond to this deep uncertainty, Lempert et al (2004) proposed “Robust Decision Making” which takes into account of all the plausible futures in order to consider the most suitable and effective policy options to such different futures. Anyway, at least we may want to pay more attention to “fat tail”.

・気候変動の経済評価 Economic analysis of climate change
Stern review (2007) is much popular in this field, but there are the other researchers who have estimated economic costs and benefits of climate change before Stern did. According to Tol (2010), they are just a handful of groups and people (including him)– two groups at Yale university (e.g. Nordhaus) and UCL (e.g. the deceased Pearce)- and Stern and many other researchers have used their findings as a basis of economic analysis. The problems here are 1) they don’t fully consider non-market values like impacts on eco-service, military security, conflicts and refugees (if we say climate wars, it sounds like the novel); 2) the “fat tail” mentioned above is not cared. When including these aspects, the possible economic costs should be more expensive than Stern.

・生物多様性の経済評価 Economic analysis on biodiversity
So look at biodiversity. TEEB (2010) clears the economic costs of biodiversity loss are more than $3 trillion, 97% of which accounts for carbon regulation (carbon sequestration). This should be preliminary since 1) the economic loss is less than Japanese annual GDP, 2) it seems to place heavily emphasis on climate change, and 3) the value is far below the figure that UN’s Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) demonstrated as our benefits from eco-system services – $54 trillion. So further research is needed. Several countries namely UK and Japan in fact have launched their economic valuation on own ecosystems.

・幸せの計りかた The measure of happiness
豊かさを計る上で(一人当たり)GDPがよく使われますが、この中には自然資源の枯渇や環境破壊による損失は含まれておらず、またGDPが増えるに伴い人々の効用にマイナスの要素(所得格差の拡大、犯罪率・鬱・自殺・離婚率の上昇など)も増える(このためGDPは人々の幸せの総和を計る意味ではふさわしくない)ことが指摘されています(コスタンザなど2009)。これに代わる方法としては、例えば国連人間開発指数などが目的に応じてありますが、幸せな惑星指数(Happy Planet Index)というのも提案され計測されています(アバダラーなど2009)。ここでは、「平均寿命×生活満足度/エコロジカルフットプリント」という式を基に、各国を調査した結果、世界で一番幸せなのは、何とコスタリカ。満足度の高さとフットプリントの少なさが要因ですが、同様の傾向でラテンアメリカの国が上位につけています。生活満足度は主観的なアンケート調査によるものですが、ラテンの人は相対的にポジティブなのでしょうか。他は、アメリカ流の暮らしは地球が5個以上必要となるため、世界第1の経済大国は100位以下。サブサハラアフリカの人達は寿命の短さが響いて下位、日本は平均寿命が世界一であるにもかかわらず、生活満足度が控えめなのと、地球が2個以上必要な社会のため、54位でした。そもそも国単位が幸せを測るのがいいのか、指標の組み合わせによって結果が変わるなど、色々議論はありますが、価値観の転換に向けた気づきにはなりそうです。
To refer to human welfare, GDP (per capita) is frequently used. But Costanza et al (2009) criticized that GDP does not look at the loss by depletion of natural resources and environmental deterioration. Furthermore, Increase in GDP may affect human welfare adversely - more GDP, more income inequality, crime, depression, suicide, divorce etc. Therefore, there are alternatives in accordance with respective purposes. One example is UN’s Human Development Index. Another is Happy Planet Index proposed and measured by Abadallah et al (2009). Here the equation is “1) life expectance x 2) life satisafaction / 3) econological footprint” and among more than 140 countries measured, the happiest country was surprisingly Costa Rica. This is because of high satisfaction and low footprint and other Latin American countries followed them. Life satisfaction is subjective measured by asking people so Latin Americans may be relatively positively enjoying their life. US was less than 100th due to their gorgeous life style with more than 5 earths needed. Sub-Sahara Africa was also in a low position owing to the short lengh of life expectancy. As for Japan, despite the world longest life expectancy, their position was 54th thanks to modest satisfaction and more-than-2-earth-needed society.
Although there should be arguments about 1) whether to measure country-based happiness is appropriate, 2) the results would be changed according to selection of indexes and their combination and so on, this could give us good intuitions for paradigm shift of value and judgment – what is our happiness.

・補助金で汚染が逆に増える? Subsidy for reduction may increase total pollution?
This is from classical but good text for resource and environmental economics written by Pearce and Turner (1990). They explain that, if government introduce subsidy for pollutant reduction(as a premium), the firm’s cost would be mitigated so new firms would join such market, which may lead to the possibility of increase in the total emissions of pollutants in the industry which admits new comer’s participation freely. In Japan, traditionally we have introduced environmental regulations for reductions of pollutants as a form of either technology standard or outcome standard (i.e. the total emissions cap or each firm’s cap). And in order firms to obey these regulations, subsidy has been used for the improvement of facilities and equipment. In this case, outcomes would be different from the economic theory. On the other hand, the policy pull to encourage the purchase of energy efficient appliances (e.g. car, TV, air conditioner, fridge) which Japanese government recently has conducted might be the case of such theory. In this case, consumers could save their expenses since an eco-point premium is endowed after purchasing eco-friendly stuff and can be used as sort of money. This may result in the increase in total energy use, overwhelming the positive energy efficiency impacts. Therefore, we might want to consider under which conditions economic instruments should be adopted.

by uk-env | 2011-01-16 22:22 | 大学(York Uni)
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