Robert Stavins

Robert N. Stavins is the Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government, Director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program, and Chairman of the Environment and Natural Resources Faculty Group at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

What baseball can teach policymakers

With the Major League Baseball season having just begun, I’m reminded of the truism that the best teams win their divisions in the regular season, but the hot teams win in the post-season playoffs.  Why …

The making of a conventional wisdom

What explains the recent popularity of market-based environmental solutions?

Despite the potential cost-effectiveness of market-based policy instruments like pollution taxes and tradable permits, conventional approaches — including design and uniform performance standards — have been the mainstay of U.S. environmental policy since before the …

Moving beyond vintage-differentiated regulation

A common feature of many environmental policies in the United States is vintage-differentiated regulation (VDR), under which standards for regulated units are fixed in terms of the units’ respective dates of entry, with later vintages …

Cap-and-fish

Using markets to make fisheries sustainable

Around the world, over-fishing is leading to severe depletion of valuable fisheries. This is as true in U.S. coastal waters as it is in many other parts of the world. In New England waters, for …

Misconceptions about water pricing

Approach water management as an economic problem

Throughout the United States, water management has been approached primarily as an engineering problem, rather than an economic one. Water supply managers are reluctant to use price increases as water conservation tools, instead relying on …

A tale of two taxes

Let’s call a gas tax the ‘All-American Energy-Independence Assessment’

Whether they are called “revenue enhancements” or “user charges,” fear of the political consequences of taxes restricts debate on energy and environmental policy options in Washington. In a March 7 post on “green jobs,” in …

Aparting shots

An argument for separating climate action and economic stimulus — sometimes

The January 12, 2009 issue of The New Yorker includes a well-written and in some ways inspiring article by Elizabeth Kolbert, profiling Van Jones, founder and president of Green for All. In the article, "Greening …

Pay up

As reservoirs fall, water prices should rise

Last week, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency and warned of possible mandatory water rationing as the state struggled through its third consecutive year of drought. This well-intentioned response to the latest …

The myth of simple market solutions

No particular policy instrument is appropriate for all environmental problems

I introduced my previous post by noting that there are several prevalent myths regarding how economists think about the environment, and I addressed the "myth of the universal market" ­-- the notion that economists believe …