Market Solutions to Environmental Problems

Science and Technology @ UCSB

Humanity faces an uncertain future as we decide how to respond to the myriad environmental issues that confront us. Climate change, plastic pollution, resource exploitation and a host of other such challenges threaten our society and the wellbeing of other lifeforms sharing this planet.Effective strategies do exist for tackling these concerns, and according to some scientists, addressing environmental challenges is a matter of lining up the issues with the proper incentives.
That’s why researchers at UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management have launched a new initiative, the Environmental Market Solutions Lab (emLab). Director Christopher Costello describes the emLab as a “think-and-do tank” that will develop market-based solutions to address urgent environmental problems.
“We believe that markets and economic incentives can be powerful tools to align economic and conservation incentives,” Costello wrote on the lab’s first official post. However, all too often market-based approaches are designed without considering distributional consequences, buy-ins and other factors that are essential for the success of these programs. Thus, a core tenet of emLab’s approach is to thoughtfully design and implement incentive-based approaches to environment challenges to achieve durable, efficient and equitable outcomes.
The emLab will follow the approach developed by UC Santa Barbara’s Sustainable Fisheries Group, which has successfully combined academic and pragmatic considerations to ocean challenges for the past 12 years. Most recently, the group consulted the Indonesian government regarding the efficacy of a sweeping new fishery policy.
Indonesia had been battling illegal fishing for many years, and as of 2013, had the 15th highest level of illegal fishing in the world. In late 2014, the country banned all foreign made, owned and operated fishing vessels from its national waters, and the minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries wanted an independent assessment of how well the law was working. The group used data from satellite beacons — which all …

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