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Pollution abatement investment when environmental regulation is uncertain

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  • Kort, P.M.

    (Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management)

  • Farzin, Y.H.

Abstract

In a dynamic model of a risk‐neutral competitive firm that can lower its pollution emissions per unit of output by building up abatement capital stock, we examine the effect of a higher pollution tax rate on abatement investment both under full certainty and when the timing or the size of the tax increase is uncertain. We show that a higher pollution tax encourages abatement investment if it does not exceed a certain threshold rate. However, akin to the Diamond‐Mirrlees tax anomaly, it is possible that a higher pollution tax rate results in more pollution. The magnitude uncertainty discourages abatement investment, but at the time of the actual tax increase the abatement investment path may shift either upward or downward. On the other hand, when the timing is uncertain, the abatement investment path always jumps upward, thus suggesting that the effect of magnitude uncertainty on the optimal investment path may be more pronounced than that of timing uncertainty. Further, we show that the ad hoc practice of raising the discount rate to account for the uncertainty leads to underinvestment in abatement capital. We show how the size of this underinvestment bias varies with the future tax increase. Finally, we show that a credible threat to accelerate the tax increase can induce more abatement investment.
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Suggested Citation

  • Kort, P.M. & Farzin, Y.H., 2000. "Pollution abatement investment when environmental regulation is uncertain," Other publications TiSEM 90e78d8b-95d9-4d17-9d0f-4, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:tiu:tiutis:90e78d8b-95d9-4d17-9d0f-471a3f133b32
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    References listed on IDEAS

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