How disagreement about social costs leads to inefficient energy productivity investment
Public energy productivity investment influences the amount of future energy consumption. If a present government expects its successor to value the social costs of fuel usage differently, this adds a strategic component to its investment considerations. We analyze this governmental time-inconsistency situation as a sequential game. In particular, we show how the expectation of a more conservative party taking over makes a green government choose an investment level that is ineffcient in that neither of the parties would prefer it to the investment level of a permanent green government. Under some circumstances, the opposition would even prefer the government to stay in power for sure: The gain of avoiding strategic investment then outweighs the loss of not being able to regulate energy consumption. We also analyze welfare gains of binding agreements.
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