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Politics and Economics of Second-Best Regulation of Greenhouse Gases: The Importance of Regulatory Credibility

  • Valentina Bosetti
  • David G. Victor

Compared with economically ideal policies, actual limits on global warming gases are likely to be "second-best" in many ways. Most studies focus on "second-best" approaches such as delaying emission controls in developing countries, constraining international emission trading, or regulating gases piecemeal by sector rather than equally across the whole economy. We show that another second-best approach--lacking of regulatory credibility--imposes up to six times the extra costs on the economy when compared with all other "secondbest" factors combined. When regulatory rules are not believable then firms and other agents become short-sighted and unable to make optimal investments in research and development as well as long-lived technologies. Although analysts have largely ignored this issue, low credibility is commonplace when governments tackle international problems because international institutions such as treaties are usually weak and fickle. Governments can help solve credibility problems with strategies such as "pre-committing" regulations into domestic law that is usually more credible than international commitments. We show that China, for example, can justify unilateral, emission controls because such pre-commitment would encourage Chinese firms to invest with a clearer eye to the future.

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Article provided by International Association for Energy Economics in its journal The Energy Journal.

Volume (Year): Volume 32 (2011)
Issue (Month): Number 1 ()
Pages: 1-24

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Handle: RePEc:aen:journl:2011v32-01-a01
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  1. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521865029 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Carlo Carraro & Valentina Bosetti & Alessandra Sgobbi & Massimo Tavoni, 2008. "Delayed Participation of Developing Countries to Climate Agreements: Should Action in the EU and US be Postponed?," Working Papers 2008_28, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
  3. Massimo Tavoni & Valentina Bosetti & Carlo Carraro, 2009. "Climate Change Mitigation Strategies in Fast-Growing Countries: The Benefits of Early Action," Working Papers 2009.53, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  4. Aldy, Joseph E. & Pizer, William A., 2011. "The Competitiveness Impacts of Climate Change Mitigation Policies," Working Paper Series rwp11-047, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  5. Valentina Bosetti & David Tomberlin, 2004. "Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei," Working Papers 2004.102, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  6. Valentina Bosetti, Carlo Carraro, Marzio Galeotti, Emanuele Massetti, Massimo Tavoni, 2006. "A World induced Technical Change Hybrid Model," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Special I), pages 13-38.
  7. Bosetti, Valentina & Carraro, Carlo & Sgobbi, Alessandra & Tavoni, Massimo, 2008. "Modelling Economic Impacts of Alternative International Climate Policy Architectures: A Quantitative and Comparative Assessment of Architectures for Agreement," CEPR Discussion Papers 6995, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. William Nordhaus, 2005. "Life After Kyoto: Alternative Approaches to Global Warming," NBER Working Papers 11889, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521875684 is not listed on IDEAS
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