Although the initial allocation of pollution permits is neutral in terms of efficiency, it does have a significant impact on distributive equity. In this paper, we examine the two main categories of permit allocation rules, the distributive and the reductive, for controlling phosphorus pollution in a small catchment in South West England. Based on the premise that the regulatory choice compromises efficiency and equity, the main result of this paper is that an allocation of permits in proportion to the intensity of environmental preferences is a “win-win” choice. The reason is that it simultaneously achieves two goals. First, it is efficient (or cost-effective) since a permit system achieves a prespecified target at a minimum abatement cost, while second, it is the only allocation rule which reduces the income inequality of the baseline scenario.


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