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A Tale of Two Market Failures: Technology and Environmental Policy


  • Stavins, Robert
  • Jaffe, Adam
  • Newell, Richard

    () (Resources for the Future)


Market failures associated with environmental pollution interact with market failures associated with the innovation and diffusion of new technologies. These combined market failures provide a strong rationale for a portfolio of public policies that foster emissions reduction as well as the development and adoption of environmentally beneficial technology. Both theory and empirical evidence suggest that the rate and direction of technological advance is influenced by market and regulatory incentives, and can be cost-effectively harnessed through the use of economicincentive based policy. In the presence of weak or nonexistent environmental policies, investments in the development and diffusion of new environmentally beneficial technologies are very likely to be less than would be socially desirable. Positive knowledge and adoption spillovers and information problems can further weaken innovation incentives. While environmental technology policy is fraught with difficulties, a long-term view suggests a strategy of experimenting with policy approaches and systematically evaluating their success.

Suggested Citation

  • Stavins, Robert & Jaffe, Adam & Newell, Richard, 2004. "A Tale of Two Market Failures: Technology and Environmental Policy," Discussion Papers dp-04-38, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-04-38

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Palmer, Karen & Newell, Richard & Gillingham, Kenneth, 2004. "Retrospective Examination of Demand-side Energy-efficiency Policies," Discussion Papers dp-04-19, Resources For the Future.
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    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.
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    More about this item


    technology; research and development; environment; externality; policy;

    JEL classification:

    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy
    • Q28 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies

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