Voluntary agreements and the incentives for innovation
Various parties have expressed serious concerns regarding the effect of environmental taxes on innovation. The argument is that innovation and investment in emission-abatement technology frequently require capital for investment. Pollution taxes siphon working capital from firms, and new investment becomes more difficult and/or more costly if it is necessary to borrow the capital from banks. In recent years, voluntary agreements have gained increased popularity and have become a central instrument in several countries’ environmental policies, the Netherlands perhaps being the most notable example. A core rationale behind voluntary agreements is that they permit collective targets to be set for the entire sector, allowing for a different pace of realization of energy-efficiency improvements among the various individual companies within a sector. This provides the flexibility for firms to set their own goals in a cost-effective manner and to use their own resources to innovate and effect changes in the manner which suits them best. It has been claimed that voluntary agreements provide an improved climate for innovation. How voluntary agreements rate with regard to innovation incentives relative to environmental taxes depends on several factors, in particular the specific design of the agreement and whether the agreements are renegotiated after the market penetration of new technology. The author claims that, whatever advantages voluntary agreements have over the traditional regulatory approach, which makes mandatory particular forms of behavior or specific technological approaches, it is difficult to see that agreements would provide better incentives for innovation. Incentives for innovation may be particularly poor if the regulator requests renegotiation of the agreement with the arrival of new technology that substantially changes marginal conditions. It is proposed that if the authorities for various reasons nevertheless choose to use voluntary agreements as instruments, the agreements should be designed to be incentive-based.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- 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.
- Hansen, Lars Gårn, 1997. "Environmental Regulation through Voluntary Agreements," MPRA Paper 47537, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 1999.
- Sappington, David E M & Sibley, David S, 1988. "Regulating without Cost Information: The Incremental Surplus Subsidy Scheme," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 29(2), pages 297-306, May.
- Milliman, Scott R. & Prince, Raymond, 1992. "Firm incentives to promote technological change in pollution control: Reply," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 292-296, May.
- Loeb, Martin & Magat, Wesley A, 1979. "A Decentralized Method for Utility Regulation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 399-404, October.
- Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716, June.
- Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
- 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.
- Karen Palmer & Wallace E. Oates & Paul R. Portney, 1995. "Tightening Environmental Standards: The Benefit-Cost or the No-Cost Paradigm?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 119-132, Fall.
- Jean-Jacques Laffont & Jean Tirole, 1993. "A Theory of Incentives in Procurement and Regulation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121743, June.
- S Labatt & V W Maclaren, 1998. "Voluntary corporate environmental initiatives: a typology and preliminary investigation," Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 16(2), pages 191-209, April.
- 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.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pio:envirc:v:18:y:2000:i:5:p:555-573. 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: (Neil Hammond)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.