Grant McDermott bio photo

Grant McDermott

Data. Economics. Environment.

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A group of us at my university have decided to start a blog dedicated to tackling environmental issues from an economic perspective. Things are still very much in the development phase, but we've managed to get the basic structure up and have also decided on a cunning name: The REConomics Hub... as in Resource Energy Climate Economics. (Take that Freakonomics!)

The ultimate goal is to showcase the research that we are doing, as well as fill the gap in providing dedicated economic-based commentary on issues like climate change, energy use, resource depletion, etc, etc. I hope that some of the things I've written about here at Stickman's Corral will give you a flavour of things to come, though this will obviously be improved by the additional coverage and the possibility for divergent opinions.

Now, the site isn't "live" yet because we've still got a lot of things to sort out. However, we have written one or two test posts to give an idea of the format, etc... And I link to them here as a special treat to you with love from the Corral! Here is one written by my friend Patrick the compares solar PV to other energy sources. And here is one by yours truly[*] that looks at whether the concept of self-reporting in environmental economics has any relevance for drug cheats in sports. A snippet:
There are many parallels between the world of sport and environmental economics. In this case, you are dealing with “bad” behaviour that some regulatory authority is trying to eradicate (or at least discourage) through punishment. Compare the doping agency with, say, a fisheries ministry that wants to ensure that each boat sticks to its “quota”… You are effectively faced with the same problems of imperfect information and limited enforcement abilities. You don’t have the resources to check all the boats (or athletes) and, even if you did, there’s a chance that you wouldn’t find the illegal catch (or substances). 

To help overcome these issues, one concept that has become popular in the field of environmental regulation is self-reporting. To continue with our fisheries example, boats would have the option of reporting a catch in excess of their quota — provided they are subjected to a reduced fine as a reward for their honesty. The main idea here is that self-reporting allows the regulator to focus its scarce resources on agents (i.e. boats) that don’t self-report and thereby increase overall compliance rates within the industry…. And, indeed, this is what the literature suggests will actually happen.
If you have any comments or suggestions, please let me know.
[*] At this stage, I'm inclined to think that my identity is a very poorly guarded secret anyway. As such, you can follow me here on Twitter if you are so inclined...