Hybridity, Possibility:Degrees of Marketization in Tradeable Permit Systems

Bigger, Patrick (2018) Hybridity, Possibility:Degrees of Marketization in Tradeable Permit Systems. Environment and Planning A, 50 (3). pp. 512-530. ISSN 0308-518X

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Tradeable permit systems for allocating rights to impact the environment have become an important part of the regulatory toolkit over the last 35 years. Informed by elegant neoclassical economic thought, these regulatory markets promise lowest-cost environmental benefit by delegating decision-making to market participants. This article examines tradeable permits systems, including cap-and-trade carbon markets, tradeable water quality permits, and individual transferable quotas for fisheries, to understand the actual outcomes of attempts to transfer environmental governance to markets. Drawing on heterodox economic thought and the neoliberal natures literature, this article examines the institutional forms tradeable permit systems engender in conjunction with a neoclassical definition of ‘market’ to provide an internal critique of environmental marketization. In general, tradeable permit systems do not facilitate highly liquid financial markets that might signal the increasing importance of regulatory markets as an accumulation strategy for capital. Instead, market-based regulation tends to behave rather differently, acting as performance standards, quotas, or environmental taxes. The article concludes by reflecting on the political possibilities afforded by the recognition that regulatory markets, for the most part, bear little resemblance to high-flying financial markets.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Environment and Planning A
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The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Environment and Planning A, 50 (3), 2018, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2018 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Environment and Planning A page: http://journals.sagepub.com/home/epn on SAGE Journals Online: http://journals.sagepub.com/
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20 Dec 2017 14:04
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 05:11