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Avoiding Carbon Lock-In: Policy Options for Advancing Structural Change

Author

Listed:
  • Linus Mattauch

    (Department of Economics of Climate Change, TU Berlin)

  • Felix Creutzig
  • Ottmar Edenhofer

Abstract

A major obstacle for the transformation to a low-carbon economy is the risk of a carbon lock-in: fossil fuel-based ('dirty') technologies dominate the market although their carbon-free ('clean') alternatives are dynamically more efficient. We study the interaction of learning-by-doing spillovers and the substitution elasticity between the clean and the dirty sector in an intertemporal general equilibrium model. We find that the substitution possibilities between the two sectors have an ambivalent effect: although a high substitution elasticity requires less aggressive mitigation policies than a low one, it creates a greater lock-in in the absence of regulation. The optimal policy response consists of a permanent carbon tax as well as a learning subsidy for clean technologies. A single policy instrument can also avoid high welfare losses, but a more stringent mitigation target can only be achieved at painful costs. We demonstrate that the policy implication of [Acemoglu et al. 2012] is limited in scope. Our numerical results also highlight that infrastructure provision is crucial to facilitate the low-carbon transformation.

Suggested Citation

  • Linus Mattauch & Felix Creutzig & Ottmar Edenhofer, 2012. "Avoiding Carbon Lock-In: Policy Options for Advancing Structural Change," Working Papers 1, Department of Climate Change Economics, TU Berlin, revised Feb 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecc:wpaper:3
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Lennox, James A. & Witajewski-Baltvilks, Jan, 2017. "Directed technical change with capital-embodied technologies: Implications for climate policy," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 400-409.
    2. Papageorgiou, Chris & Saam, Marianne & Schulte, Patrick, 2013. "Elasticity of substitution between clean and dirty energy inputs: A macroeconomic perspective," ZEW Discussion Papers 13-087, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    3. Armon Rezai & Frederick van der Ploeg & Cees Withagen, 2012. "The Optimal Carbon Tax and Economic Growth: Additive versus multiplicative damages," OxCarre Working Papers 093, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
    4. 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.
    5. Jan Siegmeier & Linus Mattauch & Max Franks & David Klenert & Anselm Schultes & Ottmar Edenhofer, 2015. "A Public Finance Perspective on Climate Policy: Six Interactions That May Enhance Welfare," Working Papers 2015.31, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    6. Rezai, Armon & van der Ploeg, Frederick, 2014. "Abandoning Fossil Fuel: How Fast And How Much?," CEPR Discussion Papers 9921, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Armon Rezai & Frederick Ploeg, 2017. "Second-Best Renewable Subsidies to De-carbonize the Economy: Commitment and the Green Paradox," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 66(3), pages 409-434, March.
    8. Pottier, Antonin & Hourcade, Jean-Charles & Espagne, Etienne, 2014. "Modelling the redirection of technical change: The pitfalls of incorporeal visions of the economy," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 213-218.
    9. repec:spr:ieaple:v:17:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s10784-017-9352-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Durmaz, Tunç & Schroyen, Fred, 2013. "Evaluating Carbon Capture and Storage in a Climate Model with Directed Technical Change," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 14/2013, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
    11. Kemp-Benedict, Eric, 2014. "Shifting to a Green Economy: Lock-in, Path Dependence, and Policy Options," MPRA Paper 60175, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Corrado Di Maria & Sjak Smulders & Edwin Werf, 2017. "Climate Policy with Tied Hands: Optimal Resource Taxation Under Implementation Lags," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 66(3), pages 537-551, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    structural change; low-carbon economy; carbon lock-in; mitigation policies; learning-by-doing;

    JEL classification:

    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q55 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation

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