Environmental economists take into account the economics of natural resources, their extraction and use and how the waste products are returned to the environment. They also deal with how economic incentives can help the environment in a positive and negative way and how the incentives can be used for environmental solutions.
Their job primarily involves researching the economics of environmental issues for instance construction of new hydroelectric power plants or renewable energy use etc. They may also at the same time take up the cost-benefit analysis of various industrial activities dealing with natural resources. On the basis of the analysis, they may take decisions and come up with cost-effective and sustainable policies which they communicate to the policymakers in the form of presentations and reports.
These people are responsible for the following:
Analysing historical data to form economic theories to understand the current circumstances
Look at how an environmental trend or cycle can predict information about future trends
Undertake research on the basis of sample findings and literature reviews
Have discussions with the policymakers regarding economic pressures that lead to companies and people following the norms or abiding by the regulations
Make predictions by collecting and analyzing historical economic information
Look at changing some of the economic incentives so that people behave a bit differently or change their approach to environmental issues
Make reports regarding their findings
Engage with industrialists, policymakers and other stakeholders
Offer consultation to agencies, researchers and other professionals regarding environmental economy perspective
To pursue a career in the field of environmental economics, you will need an economics/environmental science major. You’ll also need to study physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and any other related applied sciences. It is also important for an environmental economist to have an understanding of statistics.
You can also opt for a course that focuses specifically on environmental economics such as Bachelor of Science in Environmental Economics and Policy and depending on your interest and for career advancement, you can also go for a master’s or doctoral degree.
The following job profiles exist in the field of environmental economics:
Ecological Economist-Ecological Economists address the relationship between ecosystems and economic systems.
Energy Economist-An Energy Economist’s job is to focus on energy as the area of study, prediction, and analysis.
Marine Resource Economist-A Marine Resource Economist deals with the economic aspects of marine management, water quality management, seafood marketing and the impact of coastal industry activities.
Natural Resource Economist-Natural Resource economist focuses on the demand, supply, and allocation of the earth’s natural resources.
Agricultural Economist-Agricultural Economist is a specialist in understanding the economic activity within agricultural markets.
Principal Research Economist-Principal Research Economist leads and contributes to the analytical work which focuses on the macroeconomic issues.
Chief Economist-Chief Economist is responsible for the development and production of financial analysis. It is a broad field which includes planning and coordination pertaining to economic research.
While earlier environmental economists were being employed with the government or in scientific, professional and technical services. Now, there are large consulting firms which are hiring environmental economists where the role of the economists is to assess the environmental and financial costs of development projects.
Environmental economists may also be employed as project managers for various development projects and such a role may also involve travel abroad.
The starting salary for an environmental economist is approximately Rs. 6, 15,437 per year.
Note: The above figures are an estimate and may vary from individual to individual and company to company.
Some good books to refer to in the field of environmental economics are:
Environmental Economics: An Indian Perspective by Rabindranath Bhattacharya
Intermediate Environmental Economics by Charles D Kolstad
Environmental Economics: Theory and Applications by Katar Singh
Environmental and Natural Resource Economics by Tom Tietenberg and Lynne Lewis
Public Policies for Environmental Protection by PR Portney
Economics of Environment by Subhashini Muthukrishnan
Environmental Economics by A N Sarkar
Frontiers of Environmental Input-Output Analysis by Shigemi Kagawa
One of the drawbacks of being in this field is that you may be prone to think too theoretically.
You may also get into the habit of overthinking facts too often.
This field of environmental economics can be too competitive at times.
The work hours can be too long and at times, you may have to work over the weekends too.
The work environment can be too stressful at times as there may be a lot of work pressure and preparing reports and presentations may seem a bit tedious.
Environmental Economists with good subject knowledge, skills and patience will have good career scope.
Environmental Economists are not subjected to stress often. There are certain situations where these professionals require more thinking and innovative ideas.
Ph.D. degree adds valuate to the career of Environmental Economist.
Environmental Economists need the knowledge of Statistics. However, this subject knowledge should be accompanied by the relevant qualification in the field of Environmental Sciences.
Creativity plays a vital role for the candidates who are aspiring to become an Environmental Economist. It is not only an innovative job but also challenging.
Candidates with all relevant qualifications can earn almost Rs. 6,00,000 per annum.
Most of the job opportunities for Environmental Economist are available abroad. However, there is a scope for government job in India. The candidates can clear Civil Services and secure jobs.
Some of the important job roles that can be taken up by an Environmental Economist include Energy Economist, Ecological Economist, Agricultural Economist and Chief Economist.
Candidates with a Master’s degree in Economics or Environmental Sciences or Environmental Economics are eligible to become Environmental Economist.
The major responsibility of an Environmental Economist is to maintain an account of the available natural resources and suggest ways on how can these resources be used judiciously.