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Investment under market and climate policy uncertainty

  • Fuss, Sabine
  • Szolgayova, Jana
  • Obersteiner, Michael
  • Gusti, Mykola
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    Climate change is considered as one of the major systematic risks for global society in the 21st century. Yet, serious efforts to slow the accumulation of emissions are still in their primordial stage and policy makers fail to give proper long-term signals to emitters. These days, investors do not only face uncertainty from volatile prices in the traditional markets, but also from the less conceivable uncertainty of stricter climate change policy. This paper investigates the impact of learning about the commitment of government to a climate policy regime in a real options framework. Two types of uncertainty are distinguished: market-driven price volatility around a mean price and bifurcating price trajectories mimicking uncertainty about changing policy regimes. One of the findings is that the producer facing market uncertainty about CO2 prices invests into carbon-saving technology earlier than if the actual price path had been known on beforehand. This is not a typical real options outcome, but the result of optimizing under imperfect information, which leads to decisions that are different from the optimal strategies under full information. On the other hand, policy uncertainty induces the producer to wait and see whether the government will further commit to climate policy. This waiting is a real options effect. In other words, if learning about government commitment is more valuable than investing into mitigation technologies immediately, the option value exceeds the value of the technology and investment will be postponed. This might lead to supply shortages and limited diffusion of less carbon-intensive technology.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306-2619(08)00028-7
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Applied Energy.

    Volume (Year): 85 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 8 (August)
    Pages: 708-721

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:85:y:2008:i:8:p:708-721
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    1. Avinash K. Dixit & Robert S. Pindyck, 1994. "Investment under Uncertainty," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 5474, 06-2016.
    2. Peter S. Reinelt & David W. Keith, 2007. "Carbon Capture Retrofits and the Cost of Regulatory Uncertainty," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 101-128.
    3. Pindyck, Robert S., 1990. "Irreversibility, uncertainty, and investment," Working papers 3137-90., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
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    5. Chao, Hung-Po & Wilson, Robert, 1993. "Option Value of Emission Allowances," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 5(3), pages 233-49, September.
    6. Pindyck, Robert S., 1986. "Irreversible investment, capacity choice, and the value of the firm," Working papers 1802-86., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    7. Fleten, Stein-Erik & Maribu, Karl Magnus & Wangensteen, Ivar, 2005. "Optimal investment strategies in decentralized renewable power generation under uncertainty," MPRA Paper 218, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Jun 2006.
    8. Hlouskova, Jaroslava & Kossmeier, Stephan & Obersteiner, Michael & Schnabl, Alexander, 2005. "Real options and the value of generation capacity in the German electricity market," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3-4), pages 297-310.
    9. Robert McDonald & Daniel Siegel, 1986. "The Value of Waiting to Invest," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(4), pages 707-727.
    10. Luke Reedman & Paul Graham & Peter Coombes, 2006. "Using a Real-Options Approach to Model Technology Adoption Under Carbon Price Uncertainty: An Application to the Australian Electricity Generation Sector," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 82(s1), pages S64-S73, 09.
    11. Carl Johan Lagerkvist, 2005. "Agricultural policy uncertainty and farm level adjustments--the case of direct payments and incentives for farmland investment," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 32(1), pages 1-23, March.
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