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Design choices and environmental policies

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  • Sophie Bernard

Abstract

This paper studies the impact of environmental policies when firms can adjust product design as they see fit. In particular, it considers cross relationships between product design dimensions. For example, when products are designed to be more durable, this may add production steps and increase pollutant emissions during production. More generally, changes applied to one dimension can affect the cost or environmental performance of other dimensions. In this theoretical model, a firm interacts with consumers and a regulator. Before the production stage, the firm must choose the levels of three design dimensions: 1) energy performance during production, 2) energy performance during use, and 3) durability. Depending on the assumptions, the dimensions are said to be complementary, neutral, or competitive. The regulator can promote greener designs by applying targeted environmental taxes on emissions during production or consumption. The main results shed light on the consequences of modifying public policies. When some design dimensions are competitive, a targeted emission tax can result in environmental burden shifting, with an overall increase in pollution. This paper also explores the social optimum and the development of second-best policies when some policy instruments are imperfect. Under given conditions, a government would want to regulate and constraint the level of durability.

Suggested Citation

  • Sophie Bernard, 2016. "Design choices and environmental policies," CIRANO Working Papers 2016s-09, CIRANO.
  • Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:2016s-09
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    File URL: https://cirano.qc.ca/files/publications/2016s-09.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Birg, Laura & VoƟwinkel, Jan S., 2018. "Minimum quality standards and compulsory labeling when environmental quality is not observable," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 62-78.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    green design; environmental policies; durability;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • 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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