May 31, 2010
Media Release - Environmental Policy and Unintended Consequences
When green regulation works—and when it harms the very environment it aims to protect
Winnipeg: The Frontier Centre for Public Policy today released Environmental Policy and Unintended Consequences—Eight Case Studies from Around the World. The study, from Ben Eisen and Kenneth Green, examines a series of case studies drawn from around the world. Those case studies demonstrate how the law of unintended consequences has often frustrated policymakers in the area of environmental policy.
Specifically, these case studies demonstrate how well-meaning efforts by governments to protect the environment have, on occasion, backfired, resulting in severe harm to human beings and, in some instances, to the natural environment regulators sought to protect.
Examples of unintended consequences include:
An environmental disaster on Macquarie Island
The great golf cart boom of 2009
Fuel economy standards, highway fatalities, and increased driving
“Sometimes, these consequences have been a distortion of economic incentives leading to lost economic production or wasted government resources. In other cases, the consequences were much more severe, leading to illness and death for thousands of human beings,” write the study’s authors.
“Policymakers need to incorporate the law of unintended consequences in the development of environmental policy; that law demonstrate the need for humility and caution on the part of policymakers when they consider interventions in enormously complex social, economic and ecological systems for the sake of environmental protection.”
The policy series, Environmental Policy and Unintended Consequences—Eight Case Studies from Around the World, can be found HERE.
For additional comments and/or background on the study, contact:
Ben Eisen, M.P.P.
Policy Analyst, Frontier Centre for Public Policy
Kenneth Green, Ph.D.
Troy Media Corporation
The Frontier Centre for Public Policy
is an independent public policy think tank whose mission is "to broaden the debate on our future through public policy research and education and to explore positive changes within our public institutions that support economic growth and opportunity."