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IR Working Paper 1993/3
Stuart Harris, ‘Environmental Regulation, Economic Growth and International Competitiveness’, IR Working Paper 1993/3, Canberra: Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, June 1993.
This paper considers the relationship between environmental protection and Australia’s economic performance, including Australia’s international competitiveness. It looks at the various problems associated with measurement of environmental costs and of environmental benefits at a national level. Given the importance of efficient decision-making in the context of sustainable development, it looks at the difficulties of such decision processes, including the costs and benefits of particular forms of environmental protections. It concludes that Australia’s international economic competitiveness is unlikely to be significantly affected nationally by environmental regulation although some industries, or less efficient firms in some industries, could face greater difficulties. Regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions could, however, have more effect, but it is too early to specify precisely the national effects. The paper argues, however, that improved environmental decision-making processes and the use of economic instruments could reduce significantly the cost of environmental regulation and should therefore be supported by environmentalists as well as by industry and governments.