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Sustainability criteria: compensation preferences and WTP to avoid future oil spills in Spain

Lazaro Touza, Lara (2010) Sustainability criteria: compensation preferences and WTP to avoid future oil spills in Spain. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis explores the theoretical debate regarding the pursuit of weak versus strong sustainability (SS). It is argued that the choice between these paradigms needs better scientific information plus knowledge of citizen preferences in order to be resolved. The novelty of this research lies in providing an empirical test of Aldred (2002) and Turner (2007) who claim that investment in social capital such as schools and hospitals may be an adequate compensation measure when environmental damages occur. Following Pearce et al. (2006) and Atkinson et al. (1997) the benefits of preserving natural capital are also analysed through a contingent valuation (CV) study in which environmental damages of different sizes and consequences are depicted. The main research questions are: Are the views of elites and citizens as regards sustainability similar? Do citizens exhibit strong sustainability preferences with regards to compensation schemes? Can the use of CV help substantiate the case for strong sustainability? These research questions are answered undertaking a mixed methodological approach. Elite interviews, focus groups and a survey explore expert and non-expert views on sustainability. Statistical analyses confirm Aldred’s (2002) and Turner’s (2007) claim. However, a significant number of respondents choose natural capital as the preferred compensation option. Multinomial logit models used show the main characteristics that determine the likelihood of choosing a given compensation option. Answers to the compensation question leads to the expectation that respondents to the valuation question will pay significantly more to avoid larger environmental damages. This expectation is confirmed by the statistical analyses undertaken. Interval data models provide information on the variables that determine willingness to pay. The results are encouraging as they signal scope sensitivity but doubts remain over whether CV can adequately capture preferences when evaluating environmental losses as willingness to pay amounts are not proportional to the damages described.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2010 Lara Esther Lázaro Touza
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Atkinson, Giles

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