Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 61, Issue 4, pp 497–516 | Cite as

Setting Environmental Policy When Experts Disagree

  • Stergios AthanassoglouEmail author
  • Valentina Bosetti


How can a decision-maker assess the potential of environmental policies when a group of experts provides divergent estimates on their effectiveness? To address this question, we propose and analyze a variant of the well-studied \(\alpha \)-maxmin model in decision theory. In our framework, and consistent to the paper’s empirical focus on renewable-energy R&D investment, experts’ subjective probability distributions are allowed to be action-dependent. In addition, the decision maker constrains the sets of priors to be considered via a parsimonious measure of their distance to a benchmark “average” distribution that grants equal weight to all experts. While our model is formally rooted in the decision-theoretic framework of Olszewski (Rev Econ Stud 74:567–595, 2007), it may also be viewed as a structured form of sensitivity analysis. We apply our framework to original data from a recent expert elicitation survey on solar energy. The analysis suggests that more aggressive investment in solar energy R&D is likely to yield significant dividends even, or rather especially, after taking expert ambiguity into account.


Expert elicitation Expert aggregation Decision theory Renewable energy R&D 

JEL Classification

C60 D81 Q42 Q48 


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Copyright information

© the European Atomic Energy Community (EU-Euratom) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.European Commission Joint Research CenterEconometrics and Applied Statistics UnitIspra VareseItaly
  2. 2.Bocconi University and Fondazione Eni Enrico MatteiMilanItaly

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