The International Yearbook of Environmental and Resource Economics 2006/2007

The International Yearbook of Environmental and Resource Economics 2006/2007

A Survey of Current Issues

New Horizons in Environmental Economics series

Edited by Tom Tietenberg and Henk Folmer

This major annual publication presents a comprehensive overview of cutting-edge issues in environmental and resource economics.

Chapter 3: Disclosure Strategies for Pollution Control

Susmita Dasgupta, Hua Wang and David Wheeler

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


Susmita Dasgupta,* Hua Wang and David Wheeler* 1. INTRODUCTION This chapter provides a chronicle of experience, as well as an analytical perspective. For the past decade, we have planned and implemented pollution disclosure strategies with many environmental agencies in Asia, Latin America and Africa. In the chapter, we draw on our own experience and the professional literature to address several basic questions about pollution disclosure: what is the rationale for it? How has it worked in practice? What factors have determined its success or failure? What future developments seem likely, and what complementary research agenda looks promising? We begin by defining the limits of our exposition. Pollution is a very general term for byproducts of human activity that damage health and ecosystems by contaminating the air, water and soil. We focus principally on polluting emissions from factories, both because our own experience lies in this domain, and because the professional literature has provided an extensive treatment of the topic. On occasion, however, we draw on illustrative cases from a broader set of activities that generate negative social externalities. Our topic is actually broader than ‘disclosure,’ which carries a connotation of exposure or revelation. The term is commonly used only because widely disseminated public information about specific polluters is relatively new, and the first release of such information has a revelatory aspect. To be effective, however, public disclosure has to sustain itself in ongoing public information programs. Although we devote some attention to voluntary disclosure, we focus...

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