Keywords: affordability, competitiveness, sustainability, sustainable development indicators, policy evaluation, ecological economics, environmental regulations, compliance costs
Extracting objective criteria from subjective judgments – affordability, competitiveness and sustainability of environmental regulation
Rationales, methods and issues associated with evaluating the affordability and competitiveness effects of potential environmental compliance costs are reviewed. Factors that impede arriving at definitive, unequivocal conclusions regarding the affordability of compliance costs or whether irreversibly adverse competitiveness consequences result from environmental regulations are enumerated. Reasons and methods for assessing the implications for Sustainable Development (SD) of environmental and other types of regulations are examined. It is concluded that, even though results of assessments of affordability, competitiveness and sustainability seldom yield conclusive results, such analyses, supplemented with additional economic tools such as cost-effectiveness analysis and benefit−cost assessments, will be needed to make informed choices for public policies about increasingly constrained economies impinging on increasingly compromised ecological systems.