Matching Items (14)

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Risk-reducing Infrastructure: How Much is too Much?

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This paper examines infrastructure spending in a model economy. Infrastructure is subdivided into two types: one that makes future production more efficient, and another that decreases the risk of devastation

This paper examines infrastructure spending in a model economy. Infrastructure is subdivided into two types: one that makes future production more efficient, and another that decreases the risk of devastation to the future economy. We call the first type base infrastructure, and the second type risk-reducing infrastructure. Our model assumes that a single representative individual makes all the decisions within a society and optimizes their own total utility over the present and future. We then calibrate an aggregate economic, two-period model to identify the optimal allocation of today’s output into consumption, base infrastructure, and risk-reducing infrastructure. This model finds that many governments can make substantive improvements to the happiness of their citizens by investing significantly more into risk-reducing infrastructure.

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Date Created
  • 2021-05

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A social-ecological evaluation of conservation markets for wildlife

Description

Many wildlife species that are essential to human livelihoods are targeted with the aim of extracting short-term benefits. Overexploitation, resulting from failed common-pool resource governance, has endangered the sustainability of

Many wildlife species that are essential to human livelihoods are targeted with the aim of extracting short-term benefits. Overexploitation, resulting from failed common-pool resource governance, has endangered the sustainability of large animal species, in particular. Rights-based approaches to wildlife conservation offer a possible path forward. In a wildlife market, property rights, or shares of an animal population, are allocated to resource users with interests in either harvest or preservation. Here, I apply the Social-Ecological Systems (SES) framework (Ostrom, 2009) to identify the conditions under which the ecological, social, and economic outcomes of a conservation market are improved compared to the status quo. I first consider three case studies (Bighorn sheep, white rhino, and Atlantic Bluefin tuna) all of which employ different market mechanisms. Based on the SES framework and these case studies, I then evaluate whether markets are a feasible management option for other socially and ecologically significant species, such as whales (and similar highly migratory species), and whether market instruments are capable of accommodating non-consumptive environmental values in natural resource decision making. My results suggest that spatial and temporal distribution, ethical and cultural relevance, and institutional histories compatible with commodification of wildlife are key SES subsystem variables. Successful conservation markets for cross-boundary marine species, such as whales, sea turtles, and sharks, will require intergovernmental agreements.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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Essays on General Equilibrium Impacts of Environmental Regulations on Labor Markets

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Environmental regulations such as carbon taxation and air quality standards can lead to notable improvements in health outcomes and ambient air quality. However, these types of policies may have significant

Environmental regulations such as carbon taxation and air quality standards can lead to notable improvements in health outcomes and ambient air quality. However, these types of policies may have significant impacts on the labor market, in particular for workers in energy-intensive industries, especially if these workers have acquired specific human capital in those industries. This dissertation focuses on the general equilibrium consequences of environmental regulation on the labor market. Specifically, I examine costly reallocation of workers between sectors, the welfare effects of involuntary unemployment, and the heterogeneous effects of this policy on different types of workers. To this end, I develop a two-sector search model with sectoral human capital accumulation to explore the effects on the labor market of implementing a per unit of energy use carbon tax in the US. I separate the economy into a high-intensive sector (’dirty’) and a low-intensive sector (’clean’). I calibrate the model using 2014 U.S. data. I find that a carbon tax increases total unemployment by 0.06 percentage points, decreases the dirty employment rate by 2.1 percent, and increases the clean employment rate by 1.04 percent. Firms in the dirty sector adjust by decreasing the demand for high-skilled workers and increasing the number of vacancies in the low-skilled market

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Created

Date Created
  • 2019

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Three Essays on Environmental Economics: Effects of Air Pollution on Health and Human Capital

Description

This dissertation consists of three chapters. Chapter one examines whether spending different amount of time outdoors on weekends and weekdays change the estimates of the impact of ground level ozone

This dissertation consists of three chapters. Chapter one examines whether spending different amount of time outdoors on weekends and weekdays change the estimates of the impact of ground level ozone on the incidents of respiratory disease and asthma in California. This chapter contributes to the literature that focuses on the short term effect of air pollution on public health. Using the American Time Use Survey data, I find that on average people spend 50 minutes outdoors on weekends more than weekdays. Incorporating this difference in estimating the health impact of ozone changes the results significantly, especially for adults 20-64. The specification also allows me to find a precise estimate for each day of the week.

In chapter two I estimate the effect of exposure to ozone on skills of children aged 3 to 15 years. I use the Letter-Word (LW) test scores from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) as a measure of children's skills. Due to omitted variable bias, OLS estimate of ozone effect on children's skill is positive and imprecisely estimated. To mitigate the omitted variable bias I use the instrumental variables approach. This method accounts for endogeneity of pollution. The effect of ozone on children's skills becomes negative but only marginally significant.

In chapter three, I estimate a production function of skill formation for children 3 to 15 years old and simultaneously account for their childhood exposure to ozone. I find that a one standard deviation increase in ozone leads to a 0.07 standard deviation reduction in the LW test scores on average. The LW test score of 3 year olds drops by 0.10 standard deviation in response to one standard deviation increase in pollution levels, while for the 14 year olds this effect is only half as much, 0.04 standard deviation. I also find that households exhibit compensatory behavior and mitigate the negative effect of pollution by investing more on their children. I quantitatively demonstrate that certain policies, such as a reduction in pollution levels or income transfers to families, can remediate the negative impact of childhood exposure to pollution on adult outcomes.

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Date Created
  • 2017

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The role of futures markets for the design and performance of incentive based environmental policy: a study of the sulfur financial instrument and European Union allowance

Description

This dissertation outlines the role that futures markets for tradable permits can play in improving the performance of incentive based policies for environmental externalities. An extensive literature on tradable

This dissertation outlines the role that futures markets for tradable permits can play in improving the performance of incentive based policies for environmental externalities. An extensive literature on tradable permits exists. However, to my knowledge, the role of futures contracts as an instrument for responding to permit price uncertainty has not been considered, nor has their pricing performance in this role been examined. This research provides a theoretical description of how futures can be used to manage the price uncertainty associated with permit purchases. It then evaluates if the futures contract performance for the former U.S. Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) and the existing EU Carbon Dioxide (CO2) futures markets are consistent with the theoretical constructs. Overall, for the short time horizons examined, futures are the best information source regarding later permit prices for both markets examined. Consistent with the theoretical model presented, this implies futures markets can be looked to as a forecast of the incremental costs of emission control. The theory illustrates that firms can then use futures to eliminate the negative effects of permit price uncertainty and restore policy compliance cost minimization. These results demonstrate that an ideal futures market for emission permits can enhance policy performance.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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Internal Stresses and Social Feedback Mechanisms in Social-Ecological Systems: A Multi-Method Approach to the Effectiveness of Exit and Voice

Description

My research is motivated by a rule of thumb that no matter how well a system is designed, some actors fail to fulfill the behavior which is needed to sustain

My research is motivated by a rule of thumb that no matter how well a system is designed, some actors fail to fulfill the behavior which is needed to sustain the system. Examples of misbehavior are shirking, rule infraction, and free riding. With a focus on social-ecological systems, this thesis explored the effectiveness of social feedback mechanisms driven by the two available individual options: the exit option is defined as any response to escape from an objectionable state of affairs; and the voice option as any attempt to stay put and improve the state. Using a stylized dynamic model, the first study investigates how the coexistence of participatory and groundwater market institutions affects government-managed irrigation systems. My findings suggest that patterns of bureaucratic reactions to exit (using private tubewells) and voice (putting pressure on irrigation bureaus) are critical to shaping system dynamics. I also found that the silence option – neither exit nor voice – can impede a further improvement in public infrastructure, but in some cases, can improve public infrastructure dramatically. Using a qualitative comparative analysis of 30 self-governing fishing groups in South Korea, the second study examines how resource mobility, group size, and Ostrom’s Design Principles for rule enforcement can co-determine the effectiveness of the voice option in self-controlling rule infractions. Results suggest that the informal mechanism for conflict resolution is a necessary condition for successful self-governance of local fisheries and that even if rules for monitoring and graduated sanctions are not in use, groups can be successful when they harvest only stationary resources. Using an agent-based model of public good provision, the third study explores under what socioeconomic conditions the exit option – neither producing nor consuming collective benefits – can work effectively to enhance levels of cooperation. The model results suggest that the exit option contributes to the spread of cooperators in mid- and large-size groups at the moderate level of exit payoff, given that group interaction occurs to increase the number of cooperators.

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Date Created
  • 2020

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Sustainability assessment of community scale integrated energy systems: conceptual framework and applications

Description

One of the key infrastructures of any community or facility is the energy system which consists of utility power plants, distributed generation technologies, and building heating and cooling systems. In

One of the key infrastructures of any community or facility is the energy system which consists of utility power plants, distributed generation technologies, and building heating and cooling systems. In general, there are two dimensions to “sustainability” as it applies to an engineered system. It needs to be designed, operated, and managed such that its environmental impacts and costs are minimal (energy efficient design and operation), and also be designed and configured in a way that it is resilient in confronting disruptions posed by natural, manmade, or random events. In this regard, development of quantitative sustainability metrics in support of decision-making relevant to design, future growth planning, and day-to-day operation of such systems would be of great value. In this study, a pragmatic performance-based sustainability assessment framework and quantitative indices are developed towards this end whereby sustainability goals and concepts can be translated and integrated into engineering practices.

New quantitative sustainability indices are proposed to capture the energy system environmental impacts, economic performance, and resilience attributes, characterized by normalized environmental/health externalities, energy costs, and penalty costs respectively. A comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment is proposed which includes externalities due to emissions from different supply and demand-side energy systems specific to the regional power generation energy portfolio mix. An approach based on external costs, i.e. the monetized health and environmental impacts, was used to quantify adverse consequences associated with different energy system components.

Further, this thesis also proposes a new performance-based method for characterizing and assessing resilience of multi-functional demand-side engineered systems. Through modeling of system response to potential internal and external failures during different operational temporal periods reflective of diurnal variation in loads and services, the proposed methodology quantifies resilience of the system based on imposed penalty costs to the system stakeholders due to undelivered or interrupted services and/or non-optimal system performance.

A conceptual diagram called “Sustainability Compass” is also proposed which facilitates communicating the assessment results and allow better decision-analysis through illustration of different system attributes and trade-offs between different alternatives. The proposed methodologies have been illustrated using end-use monitored data for whole year operation of a university campus energy system.

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Date Created
  • 2018

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The Conservation Reserve Program as a payments for water quality case study: an environmental economic analysis

Description

Payments for ecosystem services (PES) are transactions between landholders and the beneficiaries of the services their land provides. PES schemes are growing worldwide with annual transactions over ten billion dollars

Payments for ecosystem services (PES) are transactions between landholders and the beneficiaries of the services their land provides. PES schemes are growing worldwide with annual transactions over ten billion dollars (Salzman et al., 2018). Much can be learned from looking at oldest and best funded PES schemes on working agricultural land. Initiated in 1985, the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is the oldest private conservation PES program in the United States. CRP incentivizes farmers to put their land into conservation through an annual payment. In Iowa, CRP has been a source of extra income and a way for farmers to buffer the fluctuating costs of cash crops, such as corn and soy. The dominance of agriculture in Iowa poses many challenges for water quality. A potential solution to the problem, implemented through CRP, is the use of conservation practices to mitigate the negative effects of agricultural run-off.

This dissertation considers three aspects of the problem:

1. the relationship between changes in land cover due to CRP enrollment and changes in water quality, controlling for a range of factors known to have an effect on the filtering role of different land covers;

2. the inter-annual variability in water quality measures and enrollment in different CRP conservation practices to examine the cost-effectiveness of specific conservation practices in mitigating lake sedimentation and eutrophication;

3. discrete choice models to identify what characteristics drive the enrollment by farmers into specific conservation practices.

Results indicate that land cover and CRP have different impacts on different indicators of lake water quality. In addition, conservation practices that were cost-effective for one water quality variable tended to be cost-effective for the other water quality variables. Farmers are making decisions to enroll in CRP based on the opportunity cost of the land. Therefore, it is necessary to alter financial incentives to promote productive land being putting into CRP through continuous sign-up. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) needs a more effective way to calculate the payment level for practices in order to be competitive with the predicted value of major crops.

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Date Created
  • 2019

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Two essays on the trade-offs between multiple policy objectives of environmental management efforts

Description

Environmental agencies often want to accomplish additional objectives beyond their central environmental protection objective. This is laudable; however it begets a need for understanding the additional challenges and trade-offs involved

Environmental agencies often want to accomplish additional objectives beyond their central environmental protection objective. This is laudable; however it begets a need for understanding the additional challenges and trade-offs involved in doing so. The goal of this thesis is to examine the trade-offs involved in two such cases that have received considerable attention recently. The two cases I examine are (1) the protection of multiple environmental goods (e.g., bundles of ecosystem services); and (2) the use of payments for ecosystem services as a poverty reduction mechanism. In the first case (chapter 2), I build a model based on the fact that efforts to protect one environmental good often increase or decrease the levels of other environmental goods, what I refer to as "cobenefits" and "disbenefits" respectively. There is often a desire to increase the cobenefits of environmental protection efforts in order to synergize across conservation efforts; and there is also a desire to decrease disbenefits because they are seen as negative externalities of protection efforts. I show that as a result of reciprocal externalities between environmental protection efforts, environmental agencies likely have a disincentive to create cobenefits, but may actually have an incentive to decrease disbenefits. In the second case (chapter 3), I model an environmental agency that wants to increase environmental protection, but would also like to reduce poverty. The model indicates that in theory, the trade-offs between these two goals may depend on relevant parameters of the system, particularly the ratio of the price of monitoring to participant's compliance cost. I show that when the ratio of monitoring costs to compliance cost is higher, trade-offs between environmental protection and poverty reduction are likely to be smaller. And when the ratio of monitoring costs to compliance costs is lower, trade-offs are likely to be larger. This thesis contributes to a deeper understanding of the trade-offs faced by environmental agencies that want to pursue secondary objectives of protecting additional environmental goods or reducing poverty.

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Date Created
  • 2012

Is carbon sequestration "good" for the environment?: an evaluation based on current technology and methods

Description

Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is one of the important mitigation options for climate change. Numerous technologies to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) are in development but currently, capture using amines

Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is one of the important mitigation options for climate change. Numerous technologies to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) are in development but currently, capture using amines is the predominant technology. When the flue gas reacts with amines (Monoethanaloamine) the CO2 is absorbed into the solution and forms an intermediate product which then releases CO2 at higher temperature. The high temperature necessary to strip CO2 is provided by steam extracted from the powerplant thus reducing the net output of the powerplant by 25% to 35%. The reduction in electricity output for the same input of coal increases the emissions factor of Nitrogen Oxides, Mercury, Particulate matter, Ammonia, Volatile organic compounds for the same unit of electricity produced. The thesis questions if this tradeoff between CO2 and other emissions is beneficial or not. Three different methodologies, Life Cycle Assessment, Valuation models and cost benefit analysis are used to identify if there is a net benefit to the society on implementation of CCS to a Pulverized coal powerplant. These methodologies include the benefits due to reduction of CO2 and the disbenefits due to the increase of other emissions. The life cycle assessment using ecoindicator'99 methodology shows the CCS is not beneficial under Hierarchical and Egalitarian perspective. The valuation model shows that the inclusion of the other emissions reduces the benefit associated with CCS. For a lower CO2 price the valuation model shows that CCS is detrimental to the environment. The cost benefit analysis shows that a CO2 price of at least $80/tCO2 is required for the cost benefit ratio to be 1. The methodology integrates Montecarlo simulation to characterize the uncertainties associated with the valuation models.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2012