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Working Paper: Market-Based Policies for Pollution Control in Latin America

Paper Number: 2003-01

Document Date: 03/2003

Author(s): Sarah West and Ann Wolverton

Subject Area(s): Pollution Control Options and Economic Incentives; Environment and Development; Environmental Policy

Keywords: pollution control options; market incentives; Latin America

Abstract: Rapid urbanization and increased industrialization have led to high pollution levels throughout Latin America. Economists tout policies based on market-based economic incentives as the most cost-effective methods for addressing a wide variety of environmental problems. This chapter examines market-based incentives and their applicability to Latin America. We first review the market-based incentives traditionally used to address pollution – emissions taxes, environmental subsidies, tax and subsidy combinations, tradable pollution permits, and hybrid instruments – and compare these instruments to command-and-control policies. We then discuss two sets of factors that affect how feasible and efficient pollution control policy will be in Latin America. We focus on practical considerations such as monitoring and enforcement, distributional issues, political feasibility, institutional considerations, administrative costs, and compliance costs. We also examine what the violation of standard modeling assumptions implies for the success of pollution control policy. In particular, we focus on noncompetitive market structures, imperfect information or uncertainty, the effects of regulation on global competitiveness, and the compatibility of environmental goals with the goals of growth and development. Finally, we compare Latin American experiences with market-based incentives with those in the U.S. and Europe, and conclude with several policy recommendations.

Published: West, Sarah, and Ann Wolverton. 2005. "The Use of Market-Based Policies for Pollution Control in Latin America," in book Environmental Issues in Latin America and the Caribbean. Romero and West, eds. Springer Press, pp. 121-46.

This paper is part of the Environmental Economics Working Paper Series.

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