Elgar original reference
Edited by Peter Dauvergne
Chapter 14: Long-term Environmental Policy: Definition–Origin–Response Options
Detlef F. Sprinz1 A government might, for instance, want to discourage building in areas prone to hurricanes. So it warns citizens that no compensation will be given for houses in such areas should disaster strike. If people believe the warning, they will not build. But if they expect (as history suggests they should) that the government is likely to soften its stance and pay for hurricane damage after all, they will ignore the warning. Before the fact, the government wants to stop building; afterwards, it wants to compensate those who have suffered. Mr Kydland and Mr Prescott refer to such conundrums as “time consistency problems.”2 It appears that we are surrounded by long-term policy problems. Public and private pension plans for the elderly are currently redesigned so as to close the gap between implicit and explicit entitlements given out in the past and the ability to actually honor those financial obligations; public debt sharply restricts the opportunities for politicians to enjoy the fruits of the pork barrel in countries such as Germany, Japan, France, or Italy even before the onset of the financial crisis in the early years of the twenty-first century. Public healthcare systems seem to be stretched in many industrialized countries; global climate change, if unabated, may lead to severe sea-level rise and subsequently dislocate substantial parts of the earth’s population that lives in proximity of the coastal areas. Could even the 2005 Hurricane Katrina point to the emergence of a long-term policy problem? Sustainability, interdependence, globalization,...
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