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Innovation under taxes versus permits: how a commonly made assumption leads to misleading policy recommendations

  • GERMAIN, Marc
  • VAN STEENBERGHE, Vincent

The literature on the impact of economic instruments (typically taxes and tradable permits) on the level of innovation is usually based on the assumption that innovation reduces the slope of the marginal abatement cost curve. This assumption, which usually leads to the conclusion that taxes induce higher levels of innovation than tradable permits, is however never motivated. In this short article, we analyse the assumption by introducing innovation in the production function of a polluting firm and by showing how it affects the corresponding marginal abatement cost curve. We show that the slope of the marginal abatement cost curve does not necessarily decrease with the level of innovation. As a consequence, previous analyses lead to misleading policy recommendations.

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Paper provided by Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) in its series CORE Discussion Papers with number 2005076.

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Date of creation: 00 Nov 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cor:louvco:2005076
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  1. Fischer, Carolyn & Parry, Ian W. H. & Pizer, William A., 2003. "Instrument choice for environmental protection when technological innovation is endogenous," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 523-545, May.
  2. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Mathai, Koshy, 2000. "Optimal CO2 Abatement in the Presence of Induced Technological Change," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 1-38, January.
  3. McKitrick, Ross, 1999. "A Derivation of the Marginal Abatement Cost Curve," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 306-314, May.
  4. Adam Jaffe & Richard Newell & Robert Stavins, 2002. "Environmental Policy and Technological Change," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 22(1), pages 41-70, June.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
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