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Is economics being outcompeted in environmental decision making?

Cullen, Ross
Journal Article
Fields of Research
Economists are in danger of being outcompeted in environmental decision making by researchers from other disciplines. Decision makers need information to be able to evaluate and to make choice. Economists apply considerable effort to complete non market valuation studies, and cost benefit analyses, to inform decision makers but the information generated in those studies is often difficult for non-economists to understand. Decision makers may also have an aversion towards monetary valuation of preferences for aspects of the environment. Alternatives to non market valuation and cost benefit analysis, including cost effectiveness analysis (CEA) and cost utility analysis (CUA), provide low cost, practical ways to evaluate projects and provide information for decision makers. Economists need to think carefully what is most important, the need to evaluate and provide information to aid decision making, or pursuit of a gold standard of monetising Benefits and Costs in all evaluations.