Manual for Social Cost-Benefit Analysis for Environmental Policy Issues

In drawing up new environmental policy plans, Dutch policy-makers are making increasing use of social cost-benefit analyses (SCBAs). Within the space of a few years there have been SCBAs on the phasing out of LPG, soil remediation, waste policy, offshore wind farms and several other issues. At the European level, too, policy-makers are turning more and more to SCBAs when drawing up policies as well as for identifying areas where new policy is required.

In the Netherlands SCBAs are performed according to the so-called OEI Manual. However, this document was written specifically with investments in infrastructure in mind and before it can be used for environmental policy SCBAs it needs adapting on a number of points. A special SCBA Manual has therefore been prepared for use by environmental policy-makers. Although the manual runs parallel to the OEI Manual in most respects, there is a difference in focus on a number of specific issues, in particular policy costs, policy cost-effectiveness, project-related risks, and assessment and financial valuation of environmental impacts.

The manual sets out eleven concrete steps to be followed when drawing up an SCBA and defines the respective roles of those commissioning the analysis and those performing it. There is considerable focus on the presentation of results, because it is these that guarantee proper transfer of responsibilities from analysts to principals.