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Environmental economics

Supporting impact assessment of policy-making

Expanding the Evidence Base for the Design of Policy influencing Consumer Choice (2011)

Policy makers designing effective policy to influence consumer choice need to understand how consumers make their purchasing decisions in real life situations. The study identified several important drivers and other key aspects, some of which cover behavioural aspects often ignored in consumer policy making. It investigated the practical tools needed to help policy makers build up sufficient evidence to guide individual pieces of policy. It includes a behavioural experiment to demonstrate the practical aspects of policy design.

Implementation of the CAP Policy Options with the Land Use Modelling Platform - A first indicator-based analysis (2011)

Using land-use modelling steered by economic drivers and agro-environmental constraints, the study assesses a range of environmental impacts resulting from the implementation of different policy settings foreseen under the CAP reform, focusing on the greening component of direct payments. Results are expressed in terms of land cover changes (e.g. arable land, permanent crops, pasture, natural and semi-natural vegetation, artificial surfaces, etc.) and environmental indicators such as the conservation of Green Infrastructure and biodiversity or the change in Soil Organic Carbon stocks. In general and at the EU27 level, the greening options that are modelled have a lower level of environmental impact than under the Status Quo scenario. However, several indicators also show pronounced regional differences and local developments, which do not follow the national or European trends and the results emphasize the importance of geographically targeted measures.

Coastal zones in Europe: Impacts of land use policy alternatives (2011)

Following-up on the 2010 study on "Land use modelling : Implementation - Preserving and enhancing the environmental benefits of land use services", this report describes how the EU-ClueScanner land allocation model has been used to analyse the impacts of different scenarios (more or less environmentally-friendly) related to land use in coastal areas. With a 1km spatial resolution and 10 land classes, it shows the results of these scenarios for the period 2000-2050. Results are presented through maps and indicators describing, inter alia, built-up areas, coastal erosion, risk of coastal flooding, soils quality, landscape fragmentation and biodiversity index. This report provides insight for the analysis of options for Coastal Zone Management in Europe.

Designing Policy to Influence Consumers (2009)

30 years of Nobel prize winning research shows that consumers make choices through a mix of mental shortcuts, emotion and conscious deliberation. Yet, EU policies usually assume consumers only make conscious deliberation. For instance, it is often assumed more information is a good thing - but the opposite is shown to be true. Designing policies based on how consumers actually make choices would be likely to significantly improve policy outcomes and suggests the use of new instruments. This report summarises the global knowledge from marketing and economic research and makes clear the significant implications for the organisation of the Commission's policy work, and its range and design of instruments for greening consumer choice. It is also a fascinating insight into our own mental processes.

Improving Assessment of the Environment in Impact Assessment (2007)

The following are the main conclusions of a Workshop and report aimed at improving the assessment of the environmental effects of proposed legislation or policies in areas that are not primarily environmental (energy, transport, agriculture etc). It is aimed at making sure that Impact Assessment is a powerful tool for environmental policy integration. Evidence indicates that where such best practice is followed, Impact Assessment is more likely to lead to a better proposal or law, with environmental concerns integrated and taken account of. The one page policy-makers' summary includes recommendations on setting up a framework for Impact Assessment, how to assess the environmental impacts, how to ensure good quality assessment and how to identify trade-offs between the different pillars of sustainable development.

Ex-post estimates of costs to business of selected pieces of EU environmental legislation (2006)

This report addresses the question to what extent the ex-ante and ex-post estimates of costs to business resulting from EU environmental legislation differ, how these differences can be explained, and what the implications are for cost assessments. This report is the result of a project which involved a literature review, the writing of a methodological paper, six case studies, and an expert workshop.

The case studies were on the following pieces/areas of EU environmental legislation: the Large Combustion Plant Directives; the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive (focusing on the ceramic industry in Belgium); ozone depleting substances; car emissions; packaging and packaging waste; and the Nitrates Directive.

Previous evidence suggests that overestimation of ex-ante costs is common, though not a universal rule. The case studies carried out for this study confirm this. In many cases, the ex-ante estimates were about twice as large as the ex-post results, but in some cases the differences were either much larger or there was hardly any difference at all.

Case studies