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Absolute abundance and relative scarcity: Environmental policy with implementation lags


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  • Di Maria, Corrado
  • Smulders, Sjak
  • van der Werf, Edwin


We study the effectiveness of environmental policy in a model with nonrenewable resources and an unavoidable implementation lag. We find that a time lag between the announcement and the implementation of an emissions quota induces an increase in emissions in the period between the policy's announcement and implementation. Since a binding constraint on emissions restricts energy use during the implementation phase, more of the resources must be extracted outside of it. We call this the abundance effect. In the case of multiple resources that differ in their pollution intensity, a second channel emerges: since cleaner sources are relatively more valuable when the policy is implemented, it is optimal to conserve them before the cap is enforced. This ordering effect tends to induce a switch to dirtier resources before the policy is implemented, compounding the increase in emissions via the abundance channel. Using the announcement lag in Title IV of the 1990 CAAA as a case study we are able to empirically show that the abundance effect and ordering effect are both statistically and economically significant. We discuss a number of alternative policy options to deal with these undesirable side effects of policy announcements.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

Volume (Year): 74 (2012)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 104-119

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:74:y:2012:i:c:p:104-119

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Keywords: Non-renewable resources; Implementation lags; Announcement effects; Scarcity; Order of extraction; Climate policy; Clean Air Act; Green Paradox;

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Cited by:
  1. Hoel, Michael & Jensen, Svenn, 2012. "Cutting costs of catching carbon—Intertemporal effects under imperfect climate policy," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 680-695.
  2. Corrado Di Maria & Ian Lange & Edwin van der Werf, 2012. "Should We Be Worried About the Green Paradox? Announcement Effects of the Acid Rain Program," Working Papers 2012.49, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  3. de Frutos Cachorro, Julia & Erdlenbruch, Katrin & Tidball, Mabel, 2014. "Optimal adaptation strategies to face shocks on groundwater resources," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 134-153.
  4. Frederick van der Ploeg & Cees Withagen, 2013. "Global Warming and the Green Paradox," OxCarre Working Papers 116, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.


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