IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Innovation and diffusion of environmental technology: Industrial NOx abatement in Sweden under refunded emission payments


  • Sterner, Thomas
  • Turnheim, Bruno


We study the actual process of technical change in the case of NOx abatement from large stationary sources that have been regulated by very forceful policies in Sweden. Considerable progress has been made in lowering aggregate emissions and this paper seeks to disaggregate average industry improvements to study how much of it is due to innovations by first movers, and how much is achieved by adoption and diffusion of technology. We find both factors very important. Innovation has been rapid: the best firms have cut emissions on the order of 70%. In spite of this, reductions have actually been even more rapid for the majority of firms so that the median firms have caught up with best practice. We analyze various characteristics of the technological change observed.

Suggested Citation

  • Sterner, Thomas & Turnheim, Bruno, 2009. "Innovation and diffusion of environmental technology: Industrial NOx abatement in Sweden under refunded emission payments," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(12), pages 2996-3006, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:68:y:2009:i:12:p:2996-3006

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. del Ri­o González, Pablo, 2008. "Policy implications of potential conflicts between short-term and long-term efficiency in CO2 emissions abatement," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 292-303, April.
    2. Sterner, Thomas & Hoglund Isaksson, Lena, 2006. "Refunded emission payments theory, distribution of costs, and Swedish experience of NOx abatement," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 93-106, April.
    3. Parry, Ian W H, 1998. "Pollution Regulation and the Efficiency Gains from Technological Innovation," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 229-254, November.
    4. Jaffe Adam B. & Stavins Robert N., 1995. "Dynamic Incentives of Environmental Regulations: The Effects of Alternative Policy Instruments on Technology Diffusion," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 43-63, November.
    5. Jung, Chulho & Krutilla, Kerry & Boyd, Roy, 1996. "Incentives for Advanced Pollution Abatement Technology at the Industry Level: An Evaluation of Policy Alternatives," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 95-111, January.
    6. Jaffe, Adam B. & Newell, Richard G. & Stavins, Robert N., 2003. "Chapter 11 Technological change and the environment," Handbook of Environmental Economics,in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 11, pages 461-516 Elsevier.
    7. Fischer, Carolyn & Parry, Ian W. H. & Pizer, William A., 2003. "Instrument choice for environmental protection when technological innovation is endogenous," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 523-545, May.
    8. Gersbach, Hans & Requate, Till, 2004. "Emission taxes and optimal refunding schemes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3-4), pages 713-725, March.
    9. Katrin Millock & Céline Nauges & Thomas Sterner, 2004. "Environmental Taxes: A Comparison of French and Swedish Experience from Taxes on Industrial Air Pollution," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 2(1), pages 30-34, 04.
    10. Parry, Ian W. H., 1995. "Optimal pollution taxes and endogenous technological progress," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 69-85, May.
    11. Frondel, Manuel & Horbach, Jens & Rennings, Klaus, 2008. "What triggers environmental management and innovation? Empirical evidence for Germany," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 153-160, May.
    12. Parry, Ian & Pizer, William & Fischer, Carolyn, 2000. "How Important is Technological Innovation in Protecting the Environment?," Discussion Papers dp-00-15, Resources For the Future.
    13. Jaffe, Adam B. & Newell, Richard G. & Stavins, Robert N., 2005. "A tale of two market failures: Technology and environmental policy," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2-3), pages 164-174, August.
    14. Chris Freeman & Luc Soete, 1997. "The Economics of Industrial Innovation, 3rd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 3, volume 1, number 0262061953, January.
    15. Isaksson, Lena Hoglund, 2005. "Abatement costs in response to the Swedish charge on nitrogen oxide emissions," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 102-120, July.
    16. Milliman, Scott R. & Prince, Raymond, 1989. "Firm incentives to promote technological change in pollution control," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 247-265, November.
    17. Downing, Paul B. & White, Lawrence J., 1986. "Innovation in pollution control," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 18-29, March.
    18. Stoneman, Paul & Diederen, Paul, 1994. "Technology Diffusion and Public Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(425), pages 918-930, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Cantono, Simona, 2012. "Unveiling diffusion dynamics: an autocatalytic percolation model of environmental innovation diffusion and the optimal dynamic path of adoption subsidies," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis LEI & BRICK - Laboratory of Economics of Innovation "Franco Momigliano", Bureau of Research in Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge, Collegio 201222, University of Turin.
    2. Wood, Peter John & Jotzo, Frank, 2011. "Price floors for emissions trading," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 1746-1753, March.
    3. Coria, Jessica & Villegas-Palacio, Clara & Cárdenas, J.C., 2012. "Why Do Environmental Taxes Work Better in Developed Countries?," Working Papers in Economics 521, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    4. Coria, Jessica & Mohlin, Kristina, 2017. "On Refunding of Emission Taxes and Technology Diffusion," Strategic Behavior and the Environment, now publishers, vol. 6(3), pages 205-248, March.
    5. Zaida Contreras, Tihomir Ancev, and Regina Betz, 2014. "Evaluation of Environmental Taxation on Multiple Air Pollutants in the Electricity Generation Sector - Evidence from New South Wales, Australia," Economics of Energy & Environmental Policy, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2).
    6. Cathrine Hagem & Bjart Holtsmark & Thomas Sterner, 2012. "Mechanism design for refunding emissions payment," Discussion Papers 705, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    7. Bonilla, Jorge & Coria, Jessica & Sterner, Thomas, 2012. "Synergies and Trade-offs between Climate and Local Air Pollution: Policies in Sweden," Working Papers in Economics 529, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    8. Jessica Coria & Clara Villegas-Palacio, 2014. "Regulatory Dealing: Technology Adoption Versus Enforcement Stringency Of Emission Taxes," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 32(2), pages 451-473, April.
    9. Bonilla, Jorge & Coria, Jessica & Mohlin, Kristina & Sterner, Thomas, 2014. "Diffusion of NOx abatement technologies in Sweden," Working Papers in Economics 585, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    10. Ghosal, Vivek & Stephan, Andreas & Weiss, Jan, 2014. "Decentralized Regulation, Environmental Efficiency and Productivity," Ratio Working Papers 229, The Ratio Institute.
    11. Bergek, Anna & Berggren, Christian, 2014. "The impact of environmental policy instruments on innovation: A review of energy and automotive industry studies," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 112-123.
    12. Bonilla, Jorge & Coria, Jessica & Mohlin, Kristina & Sterner, Thomas, 2015. "Refunded emission payments and diffusion of NOx abatement technologies in Sweden," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 132-145.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:68:y:2009:i:12:p:2996-3006. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.