The environment as a factor of production
The authors develop a model of environmental resource use in production with an empirical analysis of how electric power companies consume and bank sulfur dioxide pollution permits. The model considers emissions, fuels, and labor as variable inputs with quasi-fixed inputs of permits and capital. Incorporating information from permit markets allows the authors to distinguish between user costs and asset shadow values. Their findings indicate that firms are holding stocks of pollution permits for reasons other than short-term cost savings. The results also reveal substantial substitution possibilities between emissions, permits stocks, and other factors of production. The authors speculate that anticipated secondary markets for carbon-offset inventories related to the flexibility mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol will have similar effects for greenhouse-gas emitting firms.
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