On April 8, 2024, the Hoover Institution will host its second annual one-day conference on Markets vs. Mandates: Promoting Environmental Quality and Economic Prosperity. Building on Hoover’s founding principles of generating ideas that define healthy and free societies, the program will evaluate when, if, and how institutions and policies can improve environmental quality while also promoting economic prosperity and individual freedom. Experts from around the world in fields such as economics, philosophy, law, engineering, and communications will cover a range of topics including an assessment of the costs and benefits of climate policy, the morality of markets and mandates for the environment, and a comparison of academic findings versus rhetoric about environment conditions. The program will culminate with science writer and journalist, Bret Stephens, of the New York Times, who will be speaking on “Media Coverage of the Environment?” Refreshments will be served after the conference to give the audience time to mingle with the stellar cast. The conference is open to the public and registration is required.

Markets vs. Mandates
Time  Content Speakers

8:30 – 9:00 AM

Title: Welcome and Introduction to Markets and Mandates

Presenter: Terry Anderson and Dominic Parker, Hoover Institution

Environmental improvements and protections can result from government mandates or voluntary market activity. This introduction will outline the spectrum of governance approaches, ranging from command-and-control coercion on one extreme to laissez-faire on the other. It will give examples to highlight tradeoffs and implications for individual freedom, economic costs, and environmental quality.

9:00 – 9:50 AM 

Title: Costs & Benefits of Environmental Policy

Chair: Daniel Phaneuf, University of Wisconsin

Panelist: Bjorn Lomborg, Hoover Institution

Panelist: Caroline Cecot, George Mason University 

This session will contrast the use, misuse, and nonuse of Cost-Benefit Analysis for traditional air and water quality regulations with its application to climate policies such as renewable energy subsidies and mandates against the use of fossil fuels. It will discuss how the use of equity and environmental justice criteria affects CBA credibility and the bottom line.

10:00 – 10:50 AM


Title: Adapting to Climate Change

Chair: Terry Anderson, Hoover Institution

Panelist: Matthew Kahn, USC and Hoover Institution

Panelist: Andrew Plantinga, UC Santa Barbara

This session will examine how markets can help us adapt to the challenges of climate change. How do government policies hinder or promote effective adaptation? What role can insurance, finance, and real estate markets play in encouraging adaptation?

11:00 – 11:50 AM 

Title: Contracting for the Environment

Chair: Dominic Parker, U. of Wisconsin and Hoover Institution

Panel: James Salzman, UCSB/UCLA 

Panel: Bård Harsted, Stanford University

Markets in which NGOs, corporations, and governments pay private parties to generate or safeguard environmental outcomes have blossomed in recent years establishing new contractual incentives to manage forests for carbon sequestration and keep fossil fuels in the ground. How well can voluntary agreements perform when compared to top-down government regulation? What barriers prevent more widespread use of markets?

12:00 – 1:00 PM 

Lunch Panel
Title: Morality of Markets & Mandates

Chair: Peter Robinson, Hoover Institution

Panelist: PJ Hill, Wheaton College

Panelist: Victor Davis Hanson, Hoover Institution

There are common moral objections to markets. Even critics who concede that markets efficiently allocate resources argue their use limits our full humanity because people care about much more than efficiency. Furthermore, critics contend, markets risk converting participants into morally bankrupt people focused on financial gain. This session will evaluate these concerns in the context of markets for the environment, and relative to the morality of mandates.

 1:10 – 2:00 PM

Title: Mandatory Emissions Disclosures

Chair: Ross Levine, Hoover Institution

Panelist: Patricia Breuer, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Panelist: Todd Henderson, U. of Chicago and Hoover Institution

Laws in the U.S. and abroad require firms to publicly disclose carbon emissions resulting from their enterprise. The justification is that transparency will equip investors and customers with information to guide choices. Emissions, however, are measured with error and mandates may create unintended consequences. Why and when will disclosure mandates do more good than harm?

2:10 – 3:00 PM

Title: Energy Transitions

Chair: Mark Mills, National Center for Energy Analytics

Panelist: Steven Koonin, Hoover Institution

Panelist: Joshua Macey, University of Chicago

The push for a decarbonized global economy has strengthened in recent years, resulting in an assortment of mandates and markets guiding energy transitions. Is this assortment appropriate for finding the best mix of fossil fuel utilization, renewable development, and carbon capture technologies? What legal, political, and economic barriers prevent markets and mandates from providing better guidance?

3:10 – 4:00 PM

Title: Academic Findings and Rhetoric

Chair: Joshua Rauh, Hoover Institution

Panelist: Roger Pielke Jr., University of Colorado Boulder

Panelist: Dominic Parker, U. of Wisconsin and Hoover Institution

Whether the topic is pollution, biodiversity loss, or climate, media, political, and NGO discourse about the environment is often alarmist. Does this discourse match academic findings or is there a disconnect between research conclusions and broader portrayals? Are scientists – including social scientists – using objective language to describe the environment or is advocacy leaking into scientific discourse?

4:15 – 5:15 PM

Keynote: Media Coverage of the Environment

Panelist: Bret Stephens, New York Times

5:15 – 6:00 PM



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