As the operator of the Funkturm, Messe Berlin was supporting once again the environmental protection organization WWF’s "Earth Hour" global community action in March 2017: the radio tower’s lights were shut off for one hour. The action, in which lights are turned off by millions of people all over the world – including numerous buildings in thousands of cities – took place for the eleventh time. The goal of this action is to globally increase people´s environmental awareness.
President Trump and his administration, or in the broader, longer-term context of global actions. Rather, I want to seize on this mid-summer opportunity to think about the past rather than the present. In particular, I would like to reflect on the four decades in which I have been engaged in the world of environmental policy, most recently – for the past 30 years – as a scholar, from my professorial perch at Harvard.This reflection is facilitated by the fact that two years ago, I was asked by the editor of the , , to write about the evolution of the field of environmental economics. I was pleased to do so, and I decided to take a quite personal approach to summarizing what otherwise would have required a rather Herculean effort. The result was published earlier this year: .[By coincidence, in just a few days, I am travelling to Singapore to make two presentations – on August 4th at the 2017 Singapore Economic Review Conference, and on August 6th at the 7th Congress of the East Asian Association of Environmental and Resource Economics.]Evolution of the Field of Environmental EconomicsOver the past three to four decades, environmental and resource economics has evolved from what was once a relatively obscure application of welfare economics to a prominent field of economics in its own right. The number of articles on the natural environment appearing in mainstream economics periodicals has continued to increase, as has the number of economics journals dedicated exclusively to environmental and resource topics. Likewise, the influence of environmental economics on public policy has increased significantly, particularly as greater use has been made of market-based instruments for environmental protection.My article this year in the Singapore Economic Review provides one economist’s perspective on this twenty-year evolution, first by tracing it through personal reflections on the professional path that has led to my research and writing, and then by summarizing some highlights of my research. That article was itself rendered feasible because of two previous book projects.In 1998, my tenth year on the Harvard faculty, I was asked by the British publisher, , if I would be willing to assemble my selected papers for a book. I responded with enthusiasm, and selected 23 articles from the 80 (published and unpublished) papers I had produced as of then – frequently with co-authors – from the time I received my Ph.D.
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