Impure public technologies and environmental policy
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to analyse the role of transfers as a means to overcome inefficiencies in the provision of impure public goods. The paper employs the example of international conditional transfers targeted to overcome suboptimal low climate protection efforts by influencing the abatement technology choice of countries. Design/methodology/approach – The paper applies the Lancastrian characteristics approach and conduct numerical simulations for divergent degrees of substitutability between different characteristics. The paper takes into account climate-protection benefits (global pollution reduction) as well as co-benefits (local pollution reduction) of climate protection activities. Findings – The analysis shows that individual country solution can be improved upon by making transfers from the richer countries to the poorer ones, if the latter have a lower relative preference for the global public goods (global pollution reduction) than the former. The magnitudes of such transfers will depend on the relative benefits of the global and local pollutants in the two countries. The authors also investigated the dependency of the potential for transfers on the degree of complementarity between global and local pollution characteristics. With a “Cobb Douglas” type of function used here the elasticity of substitution between the two is of course one. With a zero degree of substitutability the adjustment to a lower level of the global public good in fact starts to happen at a lower per capita income level. The scope for conditional transfers is still there, although the gains can be slightly smaller than when adjustment on the “global pollution characteristic – local pollution characteristic” margin is possible. Originality/value – This paper is a contribution to the literature on impure public goods. In particular, the authors examine the role of international transfers in obtaining an efficient global allocation of resources in the presence of such public goods. To date the analysis of impure public goods has not examined the case of a continuum of technologies where an efficient solution requires conditional transfers, i.e. payments from one country to another to undertake a different supply of global and local public goods than the second country would wish to undertake. JEL classification: H87, Q54
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Volume (Year): 39 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
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