Social Cost-Benefit Analysis (SCBA) is an instrument used in elaborating government policy, providing a degree of transparency on the issues inevitably occurring in the context of (environmental) policy. Should we be setting our sights higher when it comes to waste separation? Should water pollution standards be further tightened? Should vehicle taxes be indexed to CO2 emissions or to other environmental impacts? Environmental policies drive up the cost burden of consumers and industry, but reduced pollution levels benefit society as a whole, improving public health and quality of life in residential areas, for example. The question is then whether the benefits outweigh the cost burden, and this is what SCBAs can answer.
In 2013 ‘General Guidelines’ were published (Romijn & Renes, 2013) explaining how SCBAs are to be carried out in all areas of government policy. Given their broad scope, these Guidelines do not always explicitly examine all the various fields of application, including the environment. For specific areas separate guidelines have therefore been drawn up. At the request of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, CE Delft has prepared ‘Guidelines for Environmental SCBAs’ explaining how such SCBAs should be designed and carried out and containing recommendations for best practice in the environmental domain. It also discusses concrete applications of environmental SCBAs. These Guidelines will be useful for policy officials.