Now showing 1 - 10 of 18
  • Publication
    The perception and attitude of business to the environmental tax reform : an Irish case-study
    (Fondazione Lanza, 2003) ;
    Despite the fact that environmental taxes and Environmental Tax Reform (ETR) are accepted to be policies with desirable environmental and other economic effects, their implementation has been patchy. The most common definition of Environmental Tax Reform (ETR) is the use of the revenue from environmental taxes to reduce distortionary labour taxes. Although the EU, OECD and academic economic literature may be strongly in favour of environmental taxation as a fiscal policy, and politicians may be intellectually convinced of its merits, there have been very few research efforts devoted to understanding the roles and priorities of the public, policy-makers, businesses and other stakeholders. This paper explores the perceptions and attitudes of business to ETR and, more specifically, to energy taxation. It reviews the various policy instruments and instrument mix options to reduce carbon ant other emissions. In addition, as it is an important determinant of attitudes to ETR, the attitude of business to the environment generally is examined. The principal methodology is a case study of key businesses in Ireland. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with representatives of the firms at their place of employment. While not necessarily representative of all firms, the results show that, for the firms examined, while they all have internal energy policies, these are driven by financial rather than environmental motivations or the existing policy mix. However, some firms did experience a financial saving directly as a result of compliance with EMAS and integrated pollution control regulation. In addition, most of the environmental awareness of companies comes from compliance with EPA regulations. Raising awareness of environmental issues and problems is generally considered to be a prerequisite of changes or improvements in environmental practice and performance and willingness to accept environmental economic instruments such as taxes and charges. Perhaps surprisingly, companies were relatively more enthusiastic about energy taxes if , rather than recycling to reducing labour, the revenues were used to promote energy efficiency, subsidies for renewable energy and environmental education. However, this result is consistent with the attitudes of the general public.
  • Publication
    Valuing the environment using the life-satisfaction approach
    (University College Dublin. School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy, 2006-05) ; ;
    This paper presents a comprehensive theoretical and methodological framework clarifying the relationship between non-market environmental valuation techniques, in particular hedonic and life-satisfaction methods. The paper shows how life satisfaction scores can be used to test correctly the equilibrium condition in location markets required by the hedonic approach and that in the absence of equilibrium, the life-satisfaction approach is still a theoretically valid valuation technique. Valuation using the life-satisfaction approach suffers from caveats associated with the cardinalisation of utility, however. Using data from Ireland, we apply this framework to the valuation of amenities linked to respondents’ dwelling areas using Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
  • Publication
    A theory of the impediments to environmental tax reform
    (University College Dublin. School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy, 2001-12) ;
    Environmental Tax Reform (ETR) is widely accepted to be a policy with desirable environmental, and other economic effects. The question arises then as to why its implementation has been so patchy. There is a broad literature on the economic impact of ETR, however, there have been very few research efforts devoted to understanding the roles and imperatives of the public, policy-makers, businesses and other stakeholders who are addressed by ETR. This paper examines the impediments to environmental tax reform. Focus groups were formed comprising of members of the general public and these provided a forum for detailed reactions to the ETR concept. Interviews were conducted with policy makers and key business people in an attempt to identify both the patterns of thinking behind ETR and the main obstacles to its introduction. Having presented the results, a theory of the main impediments to ETR is developed. The principal potential impediments to ETR include: mistrust of the government, implausibility of the policy, means of hypothecation, information asymmetries, the political system, the structure of government, the macroeconomic environment, the impact on competitiveness, inequity between sectors, regressivity, elasticities and the level of the tax, terminology, and the marketing of ETR.
  • Publication
    A spatial econometric analysis of well-being using a geographical information systems approach
    (University College Dublin. Planning and Enviornmental Policy, 2006-07) ; ;
    In recent years, economists have being using socio-economic and socio-demographic characteristics to explain self-reported individual happiness or satisfaction with life. Using Geographical Information Systems (GIS), we employ data disaggregated at the individual and local level to show that while these variables are important, consideration of amenities such as climate, environmental and urban conditions is critical when analyzing subjective wellbeing. Location-specific factors are shown to have a direct impact on life satisfaction. Most importantly, however, the explanatory power of our happiness function substantially increases when the spatial variables are included, highlighting the importance of the role of the spatial dimension in determining well-being. This may have potentially important implications for setting priorities for public policy as, in essence, improving well-being could be considered to be the ultimate goal of public policy.
  • Publication
    Understanding and measuring quality of life in Ireland : sustainability, happiness and well-being
    In the last decade, the ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy grew at a record rate for a developed country.Nevertheless, there has been much concern regarding the implications of the pace of economic growth for localised environmental quality and life satisfaction generally. It has long been recognised by economists, psychologists and others that traditional macro-measures of national income such as GDP and GNP are inadequate measures of the performance of an economy and wider society – such measures are unable to give value to environmental and social capital and are unable to capture the performance of a country in sustainability terms. The briefing note outlines the various approaches to measuring quality of life and sustainability for Ireland specifically focusing on a modified genuine savings approach and the use of life satisfaction scores to measure well-being and individual happiness with life. The paper presents results for Ireland. Finally, the paper discusses the importance of this research for developing an evidence-base for public policy and sets out the need for investment in such research.
  • Publication
    Environmental and wider economic implications of modifications to environmental tax reform
    (University College Dublin. School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy, 2002-03) ;
    The most common definition of Environmental Tax Reform (ETR) is the use of the revenue from environmental taxes to reduce distortionary labour taxes. However, the PETRAS project has shown that there are a number of social and political impediments to implementing such reform. This paper firstly outlines some of the environmental and economic implications of environmental taxes generally. It goes on to explore three broad approaches to ETR, based on the allocation of the tax revenues, and explores the environmental and economic implications of each approach and the likelihood of political and social acceptance. Particular attention is paid to ameliorating regressive impacts and impacts on competitiveness. It is concluded that some combination of hypothecating a proportion ofrevenues to environmental projects and diverting rest to reduce labour taxes is probably the best approach in light of the results of the project. The balance should depend upon local labour market and macroeconomic conditions, the extent to which environmental projects are already funded and the extent of government failure. Funding should only provided to environmental projects if it can be shown that, in themselves, they are economically efficient. In addition, it is most important that a proportion of the funds be used to ameliorate any regressive impacts. It is also important to bear in mind that hypothecation or recycling of revenue is not the same as a tax shift, which is a reform of the entire system, so some of these approaches may take away from the integrity of ETR. The paper concludes with some of the initiatives that are likely to be necessary to facilitate social and political acceptance of this approach to ETR.
  • Publication
    Environmental amenities and subjective well-being : testing the validity of hedonic pricing
    (University College Dublin. Planning and Environmental Policy, 2006-06) ; ;
    This paper proposes a subjective well-being approach to test the equilibrium condition implicit in hedonic pricing. Contrary to the conclusions of previous studies, we show that both approaches are not complementary but, rather, they are alternative ways of computing implicit prices of environmental amenities. They are equivalent when the equilibrium condition holds but, in the absence of such equilibrium, only the subjective well-being approach is theoretically correct. In an empirical application, we find that (i) the total impact of location-specific amenities on self-reported well-being is not fully captured through compensating differentials in labor and housing markets, indicating that implicit prices derived using the hedonic approach would be incorrect and thus suggesting caution in its application, and (ii) environmental factors are as important as the most critical socio-economic and socio-demographic factors in explaining subjective well-being.
  • Publication
    Acting Now While Preparing for Tomorrow: Competitiveness upgrading under the shadow of COVID-19
    (Harvard Business School, 2020-04-29) ;
    This paper aims to provide policy makers, especially those focused on the longer-term growth potential of their countries, with an initial framework to think about their action priorities in the context of the overall COVID-19 response. Our focus is on the supply-side, microeconomic, and firm-centric response to the virus and its economic repercussions, a dimension that, in our view, needs to be added to the public health and macroeconomic issues currently dominating the debate. We argue that, for the approach towards partial re-opening of economies to be effective in reviving economic activity, public health measures need to be accompanied by a microeconomic toolkit. China’s economic data suggests that a full recovery is not automatic even when restrictions are removed, and the US evidence suggests that the degree of economic slowdown by state is not simply a function of the public health restrictions put in place. A large set of microeconomic barriers, from disrupted supply chains to weakened balance sheets to the need to establish new safe operating procedures, will need to be addressed as well to get closer towards economic normality. We argue that, in the approach to post-pandemic recovery, macroeconomic policies need to be accompanied by upgrading microeconomic competitiveness to ensure sustained, robust growth. The microeconomic factors to address include the quality of institutions, the quality of factor-input conditions, the openness of markets, the rules and regulations affecting businesses, and the presence of dynamic clusters and the sophistication of companies. The global financial crisis (GFC) showed how even successful macroeconomic stabilization can result in lower long-term productivity and prosperity growth. We outline a set of key factors to consider as countries develop a post-COVID plan for competitiveness upgrading to achieve a sustained and healthy recovery. The paper focuses on identifying key policy issues governments will have to address, without being overly prescriptive on the specific actions to take. While providing specific answers will obviously be important, past crises have shown that countries tripped up not only because they provided the wrong answers but also because they failed to focus on the right questions.
  • Publication
    ‘You Don’t Miss the Water ’til the Well Runs Dry’: Factors Influencing the Failure of Domestic Water Charges in Ireland
    (Economic & Social Studies, 2019-07-01) ;
    Access to safe drinking water and wastewater services is essential for public health, and well-being, but attitudes differ regarding how such services should be funded. In Ireland, the 2014 introduction of a domestic-sector, consumption-based, charging regime was met with public protests, leading eventually to the suspension of charges in 2016 and a subsequent recommendation by a parliamentary committee that they be abolished. Given that some form of domestic water charges exists in all EU countries, and that charges may still be required to comply with EU legislation, it is important to understand why the Irish domestic-charging policy failed. This paper presents five factors that were arguably influential in generating the opposition to such charges: whether water services are perceived as public, private or social goods; levels of public trust in government; personal values; ‘framing’ of the water charges policy; and the timing of the introduction of charges.
  • Publication
    Enabling a just transition: A composite indicator for assessing home-heating energy-poverty risk and the impact of environmental policy measures
    Home-heating energy-poverty risk presents both challenge and opportunity for policymakers, businesses and communities. Effective measurement and management of this risk requires an evidence base that accounts for characteristics of the householder, building, and heating system. A composite index utilising 10 indicators refined to Small Area level is created to deliver spatially refined analysis of home-heating energy-poverty risk. The index is used to assess home-heating energy-poverty risk across 18,641 Small Area clusters in Ireland. This risk index is a scalable and internationally transferrable methodology that can be extended to cover other energy uses. Importantly the index is also dynamic and offers the capacity to analyse changes in energy-poverty risk associated with specific policy intervention proposals, including major contemporary environmental policy transitions such as residential fabric retrofit, residential heating system changes, energy price changes and carbon taxation. The application of the index to the Irish case affords refined insight into the impact and incidence of various market, technology and policy driven interventions such as fuel price changes, retrofit strategies and carbon tax increases. Risk and impacts vary geographically, and this index is designed to inform targeted policy interventions to mitigate home heating energy-poverty risk and thereby support ambitions for a ‘just transition’.
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