Pollution Abatement Options
Control of pollution has been an important objective of governments in various countries, particularly since the second half of the twentieth century. Several policy measures have been undertaken by governments in this direction in the form of restrictions, incentives, dos, and don'ts for the polluting agents. Some of these measures have been effective in curbing pollution while others have not. Accordingly, there are certain policy instruments that work while others do not. When we evaluate an environmental policy, it is logical to look into issues such as efficiency in production and effectiveness of the policy instruments in controlling pollution.
The degree of pollution depends upon the amount of pollutants dumped into the environment vis-a-vis its assimilative capacity. The amount of harmful chemicals dumped into the air and water through emissions and effluents determine the level of pollution of air and water. In order to control pollution, therefore, there are certain 'direct policy measures' which regulate the level of the pollutants directly.
In many cases, however, it is difficult to measure the pollution load originating from a firm or other pollution sources. Nonetheless, it is easier to link certain output produced (or, input used) to the pollution load. For example, given the level of technology, the emission from a cement factory is proportional to the quantity of cement produced. Similarly, the effluents discharged from a paper mill would be proportional to the wood pulp used or energy consumed. By regulating the production of such output (or the use of inputs) we can keep pollution under check. Thus, there are certain 'indirect policy measures' where the impact point is not the pollutant itself but some other factor.