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Economics of technological change and the natural environment: how effective are innovations as a remedy for resource scarcity?

The paper aims to substantiate the importance of endogenous innovations when evaluating the compatibility of natural resource use and economic development. It explains that technological change has the potential to compensate for natural resource scarcity, diminishing returns to capital, poor input substitution, and material balance restrictions, but is limited by various restrictions like fading returns to innovative investments and rising research costs. It also shows how innovative activities are fostered by accurate price signals and research-favouring sectoral change. The simultaneous effects of increasing technical knowledge, decreasing resource inputs, and increasing world population largely determine the chances of long-run sustainable development. Consequently, future research has to be directed at a more thorough understanding of the mechanisms driving innovations in the presence of natural resource scarcity.

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File URL: http://www.cer.ethz.ch/research/wp_03_27.pdf
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Paper provided by CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich in its series CER-ETH Economics working paper series with number 03/27.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2003
Date of revision: Jun 2004
Handle: RePEc:eth:wpswif:03-27
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  1. Popp, David C., 2001. "The effect of new technology on energy consumption," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 215-239, July.
  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. Jaffe, Adam B. & Newell, Richard G. & Stavins, Robert N., 2003. "Chapter 11 Technological change and the environment," Handbook of Environmental Economics, in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 11, pages 461-516 Elsevier.
  4. Gray, Wayne B & Shadbegian, Ronald J, 1998. "Environmental Regulation, Investment Timing, and Technology Choice," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(2), pages 235-56, June.
  5. Withagen, Cees & B. Asheim, Geir, 1998. "Characterizing sustainability: The converse of Hartwick's rule," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 159-165, September.
  6. Heal, Geoffrey M., 1993. "The optimal use of exhaustible resources," Handbook of Natural Resource and Energy Economics, in: A. V. Kneese† & J. L. Sweeney (ed.), Handbook of Natural Resource and Energy Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 18, pages 855-880 Elsevier.
  7. Bovenberg, A.L. & Smulders, J.A., 1995. "Environmental quality and pollution-augmenting technological change in a two-sector endogenous growth model," Other publications TiSEM 6784bb12-71fb-45a5-bf7e-8, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  8. Stavins, Robert & Jaffe, Adam & Newell, Richard, 2000. "Technological Change and the Environment," Working Paper Series rwp00-002, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  9. Christian Scholz & Georg Ziemes, 1999. "Exhaustible Resources, Monopolistic Competition, and Endogenous Growth," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 13(2), pages 169-185, March.
  10. Elbasha, Elamin H. & Roe, Terry L., 1996. "On Endogenous Growth: The Implications of Environmental Externalities," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 240-268, September.
  11. van Zon, Adriaan & Yetkiner, I. Hakan, 2003. "An endogenous growth model with embodied energy-saving technical change," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 81-103, February.
  12. David Popp, 2002. "Induced Innovation and Energy Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 160-180, March.
  13. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 297-308, June.
  14. Groth, C. & Schou, P., 2000. "Can Nonrenewable Resources Alleviate the Knife-Edge Character of Endogenous Growth," Papers 00-02, Carleton - School of Public Administration.
  15. Carraro, Carlo & Siniscaico, Domenico, 1994. "Environmental policy reconsidered: The role of technological innovation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(3-4), pages 545-554, April.
  16. Trajtenberg, M. & Bresnahan, T.F., 1992. "General Purpose Technologies: "Engines of Growth"," Papers 16-92, Tel Aviv.
  17. Jaffe Adam B. & Stavins Robert N., 1995. "Dynamic Incentives of Environmental Regulations: The Effects of Alternative Policy Instruments on Technology Diffusion," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages S43-S63, November.
  18. Smulders, J.A. & de Nooij, M., 2003. "The impact of energy conservation on technology and economic growth," Other publications TiSEM c4db0986-2132-4216-aa53-0, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  19. Lucas Bretschger, 2004. "Natural resource scarcity and long-run development: central mechanisms when conditions are seemingly unfavourable," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 03/29, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
  20. Cleveland, Cutler J. & Ruth, Matthias, 1997. "When, where, and by how much do biophysical limits constrain the economic process?: A survey of Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen's contribution to ecological economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 203-223, September.
  21. Paul Romer, 1989. "Endogenous Technological Change," NBER Working Papers 3210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Bretschger, Lucas & Smulders, Sjak, 2000. "Explaining environmental Kuznets curves: How pollution induces policy and new technologies," Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Diskussionspapiere 12/2000, Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald, Faculty of Law and Economics.
  23. Michael E. Porter & Claas van der Linde, 1995. "Toward a New Conception of the Environment-Competitiveness Relationship," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 97-118, Fall.
  24. Binder, Claudia & Bader, Hans-Peter & Scheidegger, Ruth & Baccini, Peter, 2001. "Dynamic models for managing durables using a stratified approach: the case of Tunja, Colombia," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 191-207, August.
  25. Solow, Robert M, 1974. "The Economics of Resources or the Resources of Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(2), pages 1-14, May.
  26. repec:dgr:kubcen:200095 is not listed on IDEAS
  27. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-123121 is not listed on IDEAS
  28. Gerlagh, Reyer & van der Zwaan, Bob, 2003. "Gross world product and consumption in a global warming model with endogenous technological change," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 35-57, February.
  29. Bretschger, Lucas, 1998. "How to substitute in order to sustain: knowledge driven growth under environmental restrictions," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(04), pages 425-442, October.
  30. repec:dgr:kubcen:200371 is not listed on IDEAS
  31. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-153411 is not listed on IDEAS
  32. Buonanno, Paolo & Carraro, Carlo & Galeotti, Marzio, 2003. "Endogenous induced technical change and the costs of Kyoto," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 11-34, February.
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