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

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  • Valentina Bosetti
  • David G. Victor

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Valentina Bosetti & David G. Victor, 2011. "Politics and Economics of Second-Best Regulation of Greenhouse Gases: The Importance of Regulatory Credibility," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 1-24.
  • Handle: RePEc:aen:journl:2011v32-01-a01
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    Cited by:

    1. Thierry Brechet and Henry Tulkens, 2015. "Climate Policies: A Burden, or a Gain?," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3).
    2. Spencer, Thomas & Marcey, Celine & Colombier, Michel & Guerin, Emmanuel, 2011. "Decarbonizing the EU power sector: policy approaches in the light of current trends and long-term trajectories," MPRA Paper 35009, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. repec:spr:climat:v:144:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10584-017-2053-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Meriem Hamdi-Cherif & Céline Guivarch & Philippe Quirion, 2011. "Sectoral targets for developing countries: combining 'common but differentiated re-sponsibilities' with 'meaningful participation'," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(1), pages 731-751, January.
    5. Maryse Labriet & Laurent Drouet & Marc Vielle & Richard Loulou & Amit Kanudia & Alain Haurie, 2015. "Assessment of the Effectiveness of Global Climate Policies Using Coupled Bottom-up and Top-down Models," Working Papers 2015.23, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    6. Enrica Cian & Fabio Sferra & Massimo Tavoni, 2016. "The influence of economic growth, population, and fossil fuel scarcity on energy investments," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 136(1), pages 39-55, May.
    7. Wirl, Franz, 2012. "Global warming: Prices versus quantities from a strategic point of view," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 217-229.
    8. Gregory F. Nemet & Peter Braden & Ed Cubero & Bickey Rimal, 2014. "Four decades of multiyear targets in energy policy: aspirations or credible commitments?," Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(5), pages 522-533, September.
    9. Karoline S. Rogge & Elisabeth Dütschke, 2017. "Exploring Perceptions of the Credibility of Policy Mixes: The Case of German Manufacturers of Renewable Power Generation Technologies," SPRU Working Paper Series 2017-23, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
    10. Neil Strachan & Will Usher, 2012. "Failure to achieve stringent carbon reduction targets in a second-best policy world," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 113(2), pages 121-139, July.
    11. Vale, Petterson Molina, 2016. "The changing climate of climate change economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 12-19.
    12. Taran Faehn and Elisabeth T. Isaksen, 2016. "Diffusion of Climate Technologies in the Presence of Commitment Problems," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2).

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    JEL classification:

    • F0 - International Economics - - General

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