IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Optimal CO2 Abatement in the Presence of Induced Technological Change


  • Lawrence H. Goulder
  • Koshy Mathai


This paper explores the significance of policy-induced technological change for the design of carbon-abatement policies. We derive analytical expressions characterizing optimal CO2 abatement and carbon tax profiles under different specifications for the channels through which technological progress occurs. We consider both R&D-based and learning-by-doing-based knowledge accumulation, and examine each specification under both a cost-effectiveness and a benefit-cost policy criterion. We show analytically that the presence of induced technological change (ITC) implies a lower time profile of optimal carbon taxes. The impact of ITC on the optimal abatement path varies. When knowledge is gained through R&D investments, the presence of ITC justifies shifting some abatement from the present to the future. However, when knowledge is generated through learning-by-doing, the impact on the timing of abatement is analytically ambiguous. Illustrative numerical simulations indicate that the impact of ITC upon overall costs and optimal carbon taxes can be quite large in a cost-effectiveness setting but typically is much smaller under a benefit-cost policy criterion. The impact of ITC on the timing of abatement is very weak, and the effect (applicable in the benefit-cost case) on total abatement over time is generally small as well, especially when knowledge is accumulated via R&D.

Suggested Citation

  • Lawrence H. Goulder & Koshy Mathai, 1998. "Optimal CO2 Abatement in the Presence of Induced Technological Change," NBER Working Papers 6494, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6494
    Note: PE

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kolstad, Charles D., 1996. "Learning and Stock Effects in Environmental Regulation: The Case of Greenhouse Gas Emissions," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 1-18, July.
    2. Repetto, Robert, 1987. "The policy implications of non-convex environmental damages: A smog control case study," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 13-29, March.
    3. Farzin, Y. H., 1996. "Optimal pricing of environmental and natural resource use with stock externalities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1-2), pages 31-57, October.
    4. Alan Manne & Richard Richels, 1992. "Buying Greenhouse Insurance: The Economic Costs of CO2 Emission Limits," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026213280x, January.
    5. William D. Nordhaus, 1980. "Thinking About Carbon Dioxide: Theoretical and Empirical Aspects of Optimal Control Strategies," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 565, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    6. Ulph, Alistair & Ulph, David, 1994. "The Optimal Time Path of a Carbon Tax," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(0), pages 857-868, Supplemen.
    7. Grubb, Michael, 1997. "Technologies, energy systems and the timing of CO2 emissions abatement : An overview of economic issues," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 159-172, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Richard S.J. Tol & Wietze Lise & Benoit Morel & Bob C.C. van der Zwaan, 2001. "Technology Development And Diffusion And Incentives To Abate Greenhouse Gas Emissions," Working Papers FNU-6, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Feb 2001.
    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. Paolo Buonanno & Carlo Carraro & Efrem Castelnuovo & Marzio Galeotti, 2001. "Emission Trading Restrictions with Endogenous Technological Change," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 379-395, July.
    4. Jakeman, Guy & Hanslow, Kevin & Hinchy, Mike & Fisher, Brian S. & Woffenden, Kate, 2004. "Induced innovations and climate change policy," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 937-960, November.
    5. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Schneider, Stephen H., 1999. "Induced technological change and the attractiveness of CO2 abatement policies," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3-4), pages 211-253, August.
    6. Laurie Michaelis, 1998. "Economic and Technological Development in Climate Scenarios," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 231-261, December.
    7. 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.
    8. Toman, Michael & Morgenstern, Richard & Anderson, John, 1998. "The Economics of "When" Flexibility in the Design of Greenhouse Gas Abatement Policies," Discussion Papers dp-99-38-rev, Resources For the Future.
    9. Carraro, Carlo & Gerlagh, Reyer & Zwaan, Bob van der, 2003. "Endogenous technical change in environmental macroeconomics," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 1-10, February.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • D99 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Other


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6494. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.