Intro to Environmental Economics and Policy

Econ 2277.01, Boston College

Prof. Richard Sweeney


This course provides an introduction to the economics of environmental policy. We begin by identifying the economically efficient level of environmental quality. We then discuss why unregulated markets are unlikely to obtain this outcome. Finally, we discuss public policy options to correct this market failure, and develop tools to assess the costs and benefits of each approach. Throughout out the course, real world examples are presented alongside each topic. In addition to discussing local air pollution, water policy, conservation and natural resource management, we will spend a considerable amount of time discussing global climate change.

For additional details and course policies, see the syllabus.

Course Calendar

This list is tentative and subject to change. Check Canvas for assignment due dates

Date Topic
8/30 Intro
9/1 Efficiency - Static
9/6 Efficiency - Dynamic
9/8 Coase
9/13 Benefits - Part I
9/15 Benefits - Part II
9/20 Costs - Part I
9/22 Costs - Part II
9/27 BCA - Case: MATS
9/29 BCA - Theory; Equity
10/4 Midterm I
10/6 Public Goods / Tragedy of the Commons
10/11 No class ( Monday schedule )
10/13 International Climate Cooperation
10/18 Managing Renewable Resources
10/20 Policy Example: Fisheries
10/25 Managing Nonrenewable Resources
10/27 Sustainability
11/1 Review
11/3 Midterm II
11/8 Market-Based Regulation / Cost-Effectiveness
11/10 Taxes
11/15 Social Cost of Carbon
11/17 Setting Quantities
11/22 Cap-and-trade review
11/24 No class (Thanksgiving)
11/29 Prices vs Quantities
12/1 Policy Choice
12/6 US Climate policy; Subsidies
12/8 Overlapping / Subnational policy
12/20 Final exam (9 am)

Additional material

Notes on aggregate demand