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The Cost of Environmental Policy under Induced Technical Change

Author

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  • Sjak Smulders
  • Corrado Di Maria

Abstract

Conventional wisdom argues that environmental policy is less costly if environmental policy induces the development of cleaner technologies. In contrast to this argument, we show that the cost of environmental policy (a reduction in emissions) may be larger with induced technical change than without. To explain this apparent paradox, we analyze three main issues. The first key issue is whether the new technology increases or reduces the marginal cost of abatement. While most analyses in environmental economics consider it natural that marginal abatement costs fall as new technology is developed, we argue that technological change may instead increase the productivity of polluting inputs, and thus marginal abatement costs. The second issue is whether environmental policy increases or decreases total investment and innovation. Even when stricter environmental policy induces some pollution-saving technological change, it may do so at the cost of a reduced overall rate of innovation, which crowds out production and consumption, and thus makes environmental policy more costly. Finally, the presence of additional distortions drive wedges between the social and private valuation of investment and pollution that may provide incentives for induced technological change with welfare-deteriorating effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Sjak Smulders & Corrado Di Maria, 2012. "The Cost of Environmental Policy under Induced Technical Change," CESifo Working Paper Series 3886, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3886
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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp3886.pdf
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Carolyn Fischer & Garth Heutel, 2013. "Environmental Macroeconomics: Environmental Policy, Business Cycles, and Directed Technical Change," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 5(1), pages 197-210, June.
    2. Daubanes, Julien & Grimaud, André & Rougé, Luc, 2012. "Green Paradox and Directed Technical Change: The Effects of Subsidies to Clean R&D," LERNA Working Papers 12.20.377, LERNA, University of Toulouse.
    3. Asjad Naqvi & Engelbert Stockhammer, 2017. "Directed technological change in a post-Keynesian ecological macromodel," Working Papers PKWP1714, Post Keynesian Economics Society (PKES).
    4. Hanna Krings, 2014. "Environmental Aspects of Resource Extraction Contracts," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201434, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    5. Smulders, Sjak & Withagen, Cees, 2012. "Green growth -- lessons from growth theory," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6230, The World Bank.
    6. Mare Sarr & Joëlle Noailly, 2017. "Innovation, Diffusion, Growth and the Environment: Taking Stock and Charting New Directions," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 66(3), pages 393-407, March.
    7. Mare Sarr & Tim Swanson, 2017. "Will Technological Change Save the World? The Rebound Effect in International Transfers of Technology," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 66(3), pages 577-604, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    environmental policy; innovation policy; induced technical change; pollution-saving technical change; pollution-using technical change; crowding-out; second-best policy;

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy
    • Q55 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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