Cost of Policy Inaction. Scoping study for DG Environment

18-01-2007 | Publication

The Cost of Policy Inaction (COPI) concept is the damage to the environment in the absence of measures to solve an environmental problem. According to a study into meaningful applications of COPI, the most effective COPI variant is probably the application to such policy areas as agriculture, traffic and fisheries.

Cost of Policy Inaction applicable to agriculture, traffic and fisheries

Cost of Policy Inaction

Cost of Policy Inaction (COPI) in the environmental context is defined as the environmental damage occurring in the absence of additional policy or policy revision. The cost of policy inaction may be greater than only the environmental damage if the same inaction also creates societal and economic problems. COPI is concerned with more than just the monetary valuation of costs: it covers all costs, some monetized, some expressed quantitatively and some qualitatively.

Study into applications of COPI

The following questions were posed by DG Environment:

  • In the light of related experiences, is the assessment of COPI something that would be sensible for DG ENV to undertake in the context of a communication strategy?
  • In what areas can useful information be provided through COPI studies?

Applicability of COPI

This scoping study portrays COPI as an instrument that can typically be used in the early phases in policy development, when the emphasis is on identifying problems, warning and communicating the need for policy action. It can also perhaps sketch the urgency relative to other issues. Furthermore, COPI is able to indicate what sectors need to take action or revise their policies; however, it is not suitable for comparing and choosing between different policy options, or for judging on the efficiency of policies.

COPI would seem to be a powerful tool for these early phases, formulating a head-on statement of the problem and spelling this out in economic terms. This study has identified a number of areas where it would make sense for DG Environment to apply the COPI concept.