Thursday, February 26, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Dispelling misconceptions and myths about economics to environmentalists became such a large part of my work that I started thinking to write a book about it. Luckily, someone has done it already.
Download by Chapter
Part I: How Economists Approach Environmental Issues
Part II: Putting Economic Analysis to Work
Comments and constructive criticism are welcome at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
We find strong evidence for the importance of both income and social context variables
in explaining differences in well-being. For most specifications tested, the combined
effects of a few measures of the social and institutional context exceed that of income in
equations explaining international differences in life satisfaction. Calculation of
compensating differentials also reveals large income-equivalent values for improvements
in the social context, with much of this value flowing via positive national spillover
effects for key social variables.
Improvements in factors such as corruption, freedom, friends to count on, care and helping others, importance of religion can go a long way in improving human well-being.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Exports to Africa reached 50.84 billion U.S. dollars, up 36.3 percent. Imports from Africa hit 56 billion U.S. dollars, up 54 percent.
China had a trade deficit of 5.16 billion U.S. dollars with Africa in 2008, compared with a surplus of 940 million U.S. dollars in 2007.
The number of African countries with which China had more than 1 billion U.S. dollars in trade increased to 20 in 2008 from 14 in2007.
Angola remained China's largest trading partner in Africa and South Africa came the second.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
This paper provides new evidence on the relationship between temperature and income.
Using sub-national data from 12 countries in the Americas, we show that the negative cross-
sectional relationship between temperature and income exists within countries, as well as across
countries. We then provide a theoretical framework for reconciling the substantial, negative
association between temperature and income in cross-section with the even stronger short-run
effects of temperature shown in panel models. The theoretical framework suggests that half of
the negative short-term effects of temperature are offset in the long run through adaptation.
A further R1 billion is added for electricity demand management, together with tax incentives for investment in energy-
Tax tips continue to make up the majority of the tips submitted. Mr. Saul Margolis of
Johannesburg called for a tax to be imposed on incandescent light bulbs to encourage
people to use compact fluorescent lightbulbs and save energy. Mr. Margolis, I have
asked that this be included in the revenue proposals this year.
We propose taking further steps to encourage energy efficiency and reduce harmful
emissions, some of which have tax implications.
• An incentive for investments by companies in energy-efficient equipment will be
introduced, in the form of a supplementary depreciation allowance.
• The levy on plastic shopping bags will be increased from 3 cents to 4 cents.
• An increase is proposed in the international air passenger departure tax, which was
last raised in 2005/06.
• The existing excise duties on motor vehicles will be adjusted to take into account
It is important, furthermore that we should encourage South African companies to take
advantage of the clean development mechanism established in the Kyoto Protocol. A
favourable tax treatment will therefore be introduced for the recognition of income
derived from the sale of emission reductions, as certified through this mechanism.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
RWE AG said it won’t build new coal- fired power stations in western Europe after the European Union forced utilities there to buy all carbon dioxide allowances starting 2013, newswire Dow Jones reported, citing Johannes Lambertz, chief executive of RWE Power.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
A website called Discover Africa pulls together a wonderful set of images from Flickr on the continent.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Aren’t economists often seen as the defenders of free choice and are they not sceptical about any intervention or planning that could hamper that choice? When one picks up a textbook on the subject this might easily be your first conclusion. However, further developments in the discipline have pointed out that focusing only on either planning or markets is untenable. This post will attempt to point out some of the bridges between free choice and planning within the context of natural and environmental resource management.
The first important concept is that of external effects or externalities. These negative or positive effects of certain economic activities are not accounted for in market prices. An example of a negative effect could be air or water pollution, while an example of a positive effect is that private research could lead to new general knowledge. Policy adjustments are often necessary, especially to internalise negative impacts, which, ceteris paribus, would ultimately lead to better-informed choices.
Another important development in economic theory is the contributions of neo-institutional economics. The focus here is on the rules and contracts that guide exchange. In this view the market, or any other institution for that matter, is just one way of exchange and could be efficient, but should be measured according to the costs of performing such transactions. The focus is not on a choice between planning or market frameworks, but on the relative costs of keeping such institutions intact.
The third, and least developed concept in economic theory, is one related to the burgeoning sciences of systems theory, complexity theory and chaos theory. With the holistic focus on the interrelationships between objects, rather than on objects themselves, the contribution of this subject field for our purpose lies in the emphasis on continuous feedback from the system under study. The ex post planning of complex systems is almost a contradiction in terms, one which will only make sense if applied in a process of experiential learning.
These three concepts are important when evaluating the importance of theories on economy-environment interactions for planning purposes. The fact is that the tension between the amount and type of planning, and the amount and type of free choice differ on deep philosophical grounds. Even the views of scholars within the subject field of economics and the environment (including environmental economics, ecological economics, neo-institutional economics and other more peripheral approaches) differ vastly on the relative roles they would like to assign to free choice and to planning.
Without going into the details of such a debate, it would possibly be valuable to point out some environmental issues where such a debate will continue to flourish:
- The economic value of open spaces in urban environments
- The prioritisation of alternative environmental planning options
- The economic assessment of environmental policies and plans
- The economic valuation of alternative land uses in applications such as city planning, rural development or spatial development initiatives (SDIs)
- The planning of an international or national trading system for carbon credits
In all these examples, some will argue that more planning means more economic costs, while others will continue to argue that more individual choice means more potential for anarchy, and thus failure to reach environmental objectives. It can be foreseen that this debate will reach an academic stalemate if not guided by a learning process that facilitates such interactions. The context of natural and environmental resource management will be an important factor in determining the best mix between planning and markets.
Urban centres do not only pose a threat to the sustainable delivery ecosystems goods and services, but also provide the infrastructure and the people to realise the economic value of such goods and services.