Do market-based instruments really induce more environmental R&D? A test using US panel data
National governments are considering increasing spending on greenhouse gas mitigation R&D by billions of dollars per year at a time when many nations face severe fiscal austerity. This study investigates empirically whether it is realistic to expect market-based environmental policy instruments to stimulate a lot of environmental R&D spending on their own. The hypothesis developed is that increasingly market-based forms of environmental regulation might bring a conditional reduction in the level of environmental R&D spending, all else being equal; and that increasingly market-based approaches to climate mitigation policy may not necessarily induce the large amounts of environmental R&D spending that some corners of the induced innovation literature might predict. The hypothesis is tested using panel data on environmental R&D spending for 30 industry groups over 22 years. The evidence suggests the degree to which the prevailing policy regime embraced market forces may have diminished the R&D-motivating effect of the environmental regulatory burden. This implies that the quest to raise environmental R&D spending may be a good thing in its own right, and that the quest to incorporate market principles and institutions into environmental policy design may also be a good thing, but that market-based policies may undermine the incentives that firms have to invest in environmental R&D.
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