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Chapter 78: Impacts of Economic Theories on Environmental Economics: Prospects
78 Impacts of economic theories on environmental economics Domen ico Siniscalco 1. Introduction Environmental economics was the subject of a comprehensive research programme in the 1960s and 1970s.This programme dealt with a wide range of issues and policy problems, such as the economics of natural resources, the methods and problems in the correction of externalities, the management of common property goods, and the economics of nature preservation. Against this background, suitable analytical tools were provided by economic analysis: the theory of non-renewable and renewable resources; the theory of missing markets; Pigouvian taxation and the theory of property rights; the economics of public goods; and welfare economics. All in all, the research programme was very successful and, in the following decade, it gave rise to several textbooks, from Baumol and Oates (1975, 1988) to Siebert (1987) and Pearce and Turner (1990). In the early 1990s, however, scientists highlighted a set of ‘new’ environmental phenomena, such as global warming, ozone layer depletion, acid rain, freshwater and ocean pollution, desertification, deforestation and the loss of biodiversity (for example, IUCN, UNEP, WWF, 1991; EEA, UNECE et al., 1995; IPCC, 1995; UNEP, 1996). Some of these phenomena such as ozone layer depletion, were newly discovered; some others, such as global warming, were known but attracted new attention, due to their unexpected scale and socioeconomic implications. The new environmental phenomena share a set of common features: they are closely related to demography, economic growth and structural change; they can have a very long-run dimension, affecting future...
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