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Energy Efficiency and Directed Technical Change: Implications for Climate Change Mitigation

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  • Casey, Gregory

Abstract

In the United States, rising energy efficiency, rather than the use of less carbon-intensive energy sources, has driven the decline in the carbon intensity of output. Thus, understanding how environmental policy will affect energy efficiency should be a primary concern for climate change mitigation. In this paper, I evaluate the effect of environmental taxes on energy use in the United States. To do so, I construct a putty-clay model of directed technical change that matches several key features of the data on U.S. energy use. The model builds upon the standard Cobb-Douglas approach used in climate change economics in two ways. First, it allows the elasticity of substitution between energy and non-energy inputs to differ in the short and long run. Second, it allows for endogenous and directed technical change. In the absence of climate policy, the new putty-clay model of directed technical change and the standard Cobb-Douglas approach have identical predictions for long-run energy use. The reactions to climate policies, however, differ substantially. In particular, the new putty-clay model of directed technical change suggests that a 6.9-fold energy tax in 2055 is necessary to achieve policy goals consistent with the 2016 Paris Agreement and that such a tax would lead to 6.8% lower consumption when compared to a world without taxes. By contrast, the standard Cobb-Douglas approach suggests that a 4.7-fold tax rate in 2055 is sufficient, which leads to a 2% decrease in consumption. Thus, compared to the standard approach, the new model predicts that greater taxation and more forgone consumption are necessary to achieve environmental policy goals.

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  • Casey, Gregory, 2017. "Energy Efficiency and Directed Technical Change: Implications for Climate Change Mitigation," MPRA Paper 76416, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:76416
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    3. Peter K. Kruse-Andersen, 2019. "Directed Technical Change, Environmental Sustainability, and Population Growth," Discussion Papers 19-12, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    4. Stephie Fried & David Lagakos, 2020. "Electricity and Firm Productivity: A General-Equilibrium Approach," NBER Working Papers 27081, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Baldwin, Elizabeth & Cai, Yongyang & Kuralbayeva, Karlygash, 2020. "To build or not to build? Capital stocks and climate policy∗," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 100(C).

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    15. Daron Acemoglu & Will Rafey, 2018. "Mirage on the Horizon: Geoengineering and Carbon Taxation Without Commitment," NBER Working Papers 24411, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Energy; Climate Change; Directed Technical Change; Growth;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • Q40 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - General
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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