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Switch Point and First-Mover Advantage: The Case of the Wind Turbine Industry

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Why has the EU been so eager to continue the climate negotiations? Can it be solely attributed to the EU feeling morally obliged to be the main initiator of continued progress on the climate change negotiations, or can industrial interests in the EU, at least partly, explain the behaviour of the EU? We suggest that the individual member countries in the EU, such as Germany and Denmark, have a rational economic interest in forcing the technological development of renewable energy sources to get a first-mover advantage. Here, the Kyoto Protocol, which imposes binding greenhouse gas reductions on 38 OECD countries, implies that, as a first-mover, the EU will potentially sell the necessary new renewable technologies, most prominently wind mills, to other countries. In the latest EU proposal made in Johannesburg, the EU pushed for setting a target of 15% of all energy to come from sources such as windmills, solar panels and waves by 2015. Such a political target level would further the EU’s interests globally, and could suggest, in economic terms, why the EU eagerly promotes greenhouse gas trade at a global level. In contrast, the US has left the Kyoto agreement to save the import costs of buying the EU’s renewable energy systems.

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Paper provided by University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 04-2.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: 26 May 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:aareco:2004_002

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Keywords: Political economy; switch point; first mover advantage; wind turbine industry; greenhouse gases; Kyoto Protocol; EU;

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  1. William D. Nordhaus & Joseph G. Boyer, 1999. "Requiem for Kyoto: An Economic Analysis of the Kyoto Protocol," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Special I), pages 93-130.
  2. Zhang, ZhongXiang, 2000. "An assessment of the EU proposal for ceilings on the use of Kyoto flexibility mechanisms," MPRA Paper 13151, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Jørgen Hansen & Camilla Jensen & Erik Madsen, 2003. "The establishment of the danish windmill industry—Was it worthwhile?," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 139(2), pages 324-347, June.
  4. Hoel, Michael, 1991. "Global environmental problems: The effects of unilateral actions taken by one country," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 55-70, January.
  5. Urs Steiner Brandt & Gert Tinggaard Svendsen, 2003. "Hot Air as an Implicit Side Payment Arrangement: Could a Hot Air Provision have Saved the Kyoto-Agreement?," Working Papers 42/03, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Environmental and Business Economics.
  6. Grubler, Arnulf & Nakicenovic, Nebojsa & Victor, David G., 1999. "Dynamics of energy technologies and global change," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 247-280, May.
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