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Print Price: $13.50

168 pp.
15 b/w pictures, 111 mm x 174 mm


Publication date:
August 2011

Imprint: OUP UK

Environmental Economics: A Very Short Introduction

Stephen Smith

Series : Very Short Introductions

If environmental protection is costly, how much should we spend on pollution control? Is it worth reducing pollution to zero, or should we accept some level of pollution because of the economic benefits associated with it? How can we assess the benefits that people get from a less-polluted atmosphere?

In broad terms, environmental economics looks at how economic activity and policy affect the environment in which we live. Some production generates pollution, such as power station emissions causing acid rain and contributing to global warming, but household consumption decisions also affect the environment, where more consumption can mean more waste sent to polluting incinerators. However, pollution is not an inevitable consequence of economic activity - environmental policies can require polluting firms to clean up their emissions, and can encourage people to change their behaviour, through environmental taxes on polluting goods, for example. Generally, though, these measures will involve some costs, such as installing pollution control equipment. So there's a trade-off: a cleaner environment, but economic costs. In recent years, many economists have argued for greater use of incentive in the form of pollution charges and emissions trading rather than more traditional direct regulation of polluters.

In this Very Short Introduction, Stephen Smith discusses environmental issues including pollution control, reducing environmental damage, and global climate change policies, answering questions about how we should balance environmental and economic considerations, and what form government policies should take. Including many illustrative case studies and examples he shows that this is an exciting field of economics, and one that is at the heart of many public debates and controversies.

Readership : General readers interested in environmental issues, government policy, politics, and current affairs, as well as students of economics, geography, politics and environmental science. Economists looking for a quick overview of the key issues and ideas.

1. The economy and the environment
2. The economic theory of efficient pollution control
3. Environmental policy: instrument choice
4. Economic information and values in environmental policy decisions
5. The economics of climate change
Further Reading

There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.

Stephen Smith is a Professor of Economics at University College London (UCL), and Executive Dean of the UCL Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences. He began his career as a member of the UK Government Economic Service at the Department of Trade and Industry, and then, from 1985 to 1997, worked at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), a London-based research institute specializing in the economics of taxation and public policy. His research covers various topics in the economics of tax policy and environmental economics. He is the author of Britain's Shadow Economy, (OUP, 1986), and a series of research reports and academic papers. He has recently co-authored papers on VAT and on Environmental Taxation for the IFS-sponsored Mirrlees Review, a fundamental review of the UK tax system, which reported in 2010. He is a member of the DEFRA Academic Panel on Environmental Economics, and has acted as a consultant to a number of government departments and international organisations.

Economics - Partha Dasgupta
Global Warming: A Very Short Introduction - Mark Maslin

Special Features

  • A concise look at how the economic approach to the environment fits together.
  • Ideal for readers interested in the world in which we live and the relationship between economic activity and the environment.
  • Considers the potential for environmental policy to improve our quality of life.
  • Includes topical issues and examples of environmental economic principles throughout the world.
  • Part of the bestselling Very Short Introductions series - over three million copies sold worldwide.