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Optimal Environmental Policy with Network Effects: Is Lock-in in Dirty Technologies Possible?

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  • Greaker, Mads

    ()
    (Statistics Norway)

  • Midttømme, Kristoffer

    ()
    (Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo)

Abstract

Network externalities could be present for many low or zero emission technologies. One obvious example is alternative fuel cars, whose use value depends on the network of service stations. The literature has only briefy looked at environmentally benefcial technologies. Yet, the general literature on network effects is mixed on whether governments need to intervene in order to correct for network externalities. In this paper we study implications of network effects on environmental policy in a discrete time dynamic game. Firms sell a durable good. One type of durable is causing pollution when being used, while the other type is "clean". Consumers' utility increase in the number of other users of the same type of durable, which gives rise to the network effect. We find that the optimal tax depends on the size of the clean network. If starting from a situation in which the dirty network dominates, the optimal tax may exceed the marginal environmental damage, thereby charging consumers for more than just their own emissions. Applying a Pigovian tax may, on the contrary, fail to introduce a socially beneficial clean network.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Oslo University, Department of Economics in its series Memorandum with number 15/2013.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: 15 Jun 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:osloec:2013_015

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Postal: Department of Economics, University of Oslo, P.O Box 1095 Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway
Phone: 22 85 51 27
Fax: 22 85 50 35
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Web page: http://www.oekonomi.uio.no/indexe.html
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Keywords: Network e ects; lock-in; enviromnetal taxes;

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  1. Ujjayant Chakravorty & Andrew Leach & Michel MOREAUX, 2010. "Would Hotelling Kill the Electric Car?," LERNA Working Papers 10.08.314, LERNA, University of Toulouse.
  2. Ochs, Jack & Park, In-Uck, 2004. "Overcoming the Coordination Problem: Dynamic Formation of Networks," CEI Working Paper Series 2004-18, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  3. Acemoglu, Daron & Aghion, Philippe & Bursztyn, Leonardo & Hemous, David, 2011. "The Environment and Directed Technical Change," CEPR Discussion Papers 8660, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Greaker Mads & Heggedal Tom-Reiel, 2010. "Lock-In and the Transition to Hydrogen Cars: Should Governments Intervene?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-30, May.
  5. Eftichios Sartzetakis & Panagiotis Tsigaris, 2005. "Environmental Externalities in the Presence of Network Effects: Adoption of Low Emission Technologies in the Automobile Market," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 28(3), pages 309-326, November.
  6. S. J. Liebowitz & Stephen E. Margolis, 1994. "Network Externality: An Uncommon Tragedy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 133-150, Spring.
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