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Government failure, rent-seeking, and capture: the design of climate change policy

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  • Dieter Helm

Abstract

Climate change has been described as one of the biggest market failures. Less attention has been paid to the government failures associated with interventions, and the implications for the design of climate change policy. This paper sets out the main types of government failure, and shows how the processes of rent-seeking and capture help to explain both why the choice of targets and instruments has been so inefficient, and also why the resulting costs of carbon mitigation are likely to be considerably higher than the estimates provided by the Stern Review and other recent studies. Two examples are given: emissions trading and renewables policy. A number of generic conclusions are drawn about how taking account of government failures can help to improve policy design, and limit the impact of the climate change 'pork barrel' which existing policies have created. Copyright 2010, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Dieter Helm, 2010. "Government failure, rent-seeking, and capture: the design of climate change policy," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(2), pages 182-196, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:26:y:2010:i:2:p:182-196
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/oxrep/grq006
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    Cited by:

    1. van Kooten, G. Cornelis, 2017. "Forest carbon offsets and carbon emissions trading: Problems of contracting," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 83-88.
    2. Hallegatte, Stephane & Heal, Geoffrey & Fay, Marianne & Treguer, David, 2011. "From growth to green growth -- a framework," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5872, The World Bank.
    3. Altenburg, Tilman & Engelmeier, Tobias, 2013. "Boosting solar investment with limited subsidies: Rent management and policy learning in India," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 866-874.
    4. repec:aen:journl:eeep4_1_valeri is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Eliasson, Jonas & Proost, Stef, 2015. "Is sustainable transport policy sustainable?," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 92-100.
    6. Paul Deane, John FitzGerald, Laura Malaguzzi Valeri, Aidan Tuohy and Darragh Walsh, 2015. "Irish and British electricity prices: what recent history implies for future prices," Economics of Energy & Environmental Policy, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1).
    7. Strunz, Sebastian & Gawel, Erik & Lehmann, Paul, 2016. "The political economy of renewable energy policies in Germany and the EU," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 33-41.
    8. G. Cornelis van Kooten & Tim Bogle & Frans P. de Vries, 2012. "Rent Seeking and the Smoke and Mirrors Game in the Creation of Forest Sector Carbon Credits: An Example from British Columbia," Working Papers 2012-06, University of Victoria, Department of Economics, Resource Economics and Policy Analysis Research Group.
    9. Erik Gawel & Sebastian Strunz & Paul Lehmann, 2016. "Support policies for renewables Instrument choice and instrument change from a Public Choice perspective," WIDER Working Paper Series 006, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    10. Okereke, Chukwumerije & McDaniels, Devin, 2012. "To what extent are EU steel companies susceptible to competitive loss due to climate policy?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 203-215.
    11. Marianne Haug, 2011. "Clean energy and international oil," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(1), pages 92-116, Spring.
    12. Gawel, Erik & Lehmann, Paul & Purkus, Alexandra & Söderholm, Patrik & Witte, Katherina, 2017. "Rationales for technology-specific RES support and their relevance for German policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 16-26.
    13. Wolfgang Buchholz & Jonas Frank & Hans-Dieter Karl & Johannes Pfeiffer & Karen Pittel & Ursula Triebswetter & Jochen Habermann & Wolfgang Mauch & Thomas Staudacher, 2012. "Die Zukunft der Energiemärkte: Ökonomische Analyse und Bewertung von Potenzialen und Handlungsmöglichkeiten," ifo Forschungsberichte, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 57, October.
    14. Garth Heutel & Erich Muehlegger, 2015. "Consumer Learning and Hybrid Vehicle Adoption," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 62(1), pages 125-161, September.
    15. Dmitry Burakov, 2015. "Energy Effi ciency in Rent Seeking Economies: Is Credit Capable of Breaking the Energy Curse?," International Journal of Energy Economics and Policy, Econjournals, vol. 5(3), pages 677-685.
    16. Purkus, Alexandra & Gawel, Erik & Thrän, Daniela, 2012. "Bioenergy governance between market and government failures: A new institutional economics perspective," UFZ Discussion Papers 13/2012, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).
    17. Eric Ip, 2015. "The constitution of economic liberty in Hong Kong," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 307-327, September.
    18. Gawel, Erik & Strunz, Sebastian & Lehmann, Paul, 2014. "A public choice view on the climate and energy policy mix in the EU — How do the emissions trading scheme and support for renewable energies interact?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 175-182.
    19. Sidan WANG, 2016. "Climate Change Discourses in the UK General Election in 2015," Chinese Journal of Urban and Environmental Studies (CJUES), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 4(01), pages 1-17, March.
    20. Gawel, Erik & Lehmann, Paul & Purkus, Alexandra & Söderholm, Patrik & Witte, Katherina, 2016. "The rationales for technology-specific renewable energy support: Conceptual arguments and their relevance for Germany," UFZ Discussion Papers 4/2016, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).
    21. G. Cornelis van Kooten & Craig Johnston & Zhen Xu, 2012. "Economics of Forest Carbon Sequestration," Working Papers 2012-04, University of Victoria, Department of Economics, Resource Economics and Policy Analysis Research Group.
    22. Hallegatte, Stephane & Fay, Marianne & Vogt-Schilb, Adrien, 2013. "Green industrial policies : when and how," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6677, The World Bank.
    23. Mel Marquis, 2013. "Abuse of administrative power to restrict competition in China: four reflections, two ideas and a thought," Chapters,in: The Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law, chapter 2, pages 73-141 Edward Elgar Publishing.

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