Would Hotelling Kill the Electric Car?
In this paper, we show that the potential for endogenous technological change in alternative energy sources may alter the behaviour of resource-owning firms. When technological progress in an alternative energy source can occur through learning-by-doing, resource owners face competing incentives to extract rents from the resource and to prevent expansion of the new technology. We show that in such a context, it is not necessarily the case that scarcity-driven higher traditional energy prices over time will induce alternative energy supply as resources are exhausted. Rather, we show that as we increase the learning potential in the substitute technology, lower equilibrium energy prices prevail and there may be increased resource extraction and greenhouse gas emissions. We show that the effectiveness and the incidence of emissions reduction policies may be altered by increased potential for technological change. Our results suggest that treating finite resource rents as endogenous consequences of both technological progress and policy changes will be important for the accurate assessment of climate change policy.
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