Economic Growth and Valuation of the Environment

Economic Growth and Valuation of the Environment

A Debate

Edited by Ekko C. Van Ierland, Jan van der Straaten and Herman Vollebergh

The debate on the valuation of nature and the environment, sustainable national income and economic growth is one of prime importance in environmental economics. Economic Growth and Valuation of the Environment deals with the fundamental approaches to calculating sustainable national income and their implications for the valuation of the environment.

Chapter 4: Key issues in environmental economics

Paul Ekins

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, environmental economics


Paul Ekins 1 INTRODUCTION In this chapter I present what seem to me to be some key issues in environmental economics, referring to the main ways I think Roefie Hueting, and many other people, have contributed to the understanding of these issues. Inevitably I also draw on some of my early, and more recent, work (for example Ekins and Max-Neef, 1992; Ekins, 2000). Doubtless I will not mention many of Roefie’s works that might be mentioned in this chapter. I may also overlook other contributions that have been so seminal to the way my thinking has developed that I now regard them as my own. I can only ask Roefie and any others who find this to be so to forgive me, in the knowledge that my principal concern in this chapter has been to try to get the ideas across rather than reconstruct their genesis. It is Herman Daly who has consistently stressed the importance of ‘preanalytic vision’ in any consideration of environment-economy relations (see, for example, Daly, 1996, p.6), and Section 2 of this chapter sets out the pre-analytic vision on which the subsequent discussion is based. Section 3 introduces the idea of the environment as natural capital, which has played a fundamental role in much of the recent environmental-economics literature, and places it in the context of a four-capital model of wealth creation. Capital, of course, is a stock concept. One of Roefie Hueting’s most important contributions to environmental economic analysis was to...

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