Economics at your fingertips  

To build or not to build? Capital stocks and climate policy∗

Elizabeth Baldwin (), Yongyang Cai () and Karlygash Kuralbayeva

Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 2020, vol. 100, issue C

Abstract: We investigate (i) the impact of emission reduction policy on investment in polluting infrastructure, such as coal-fired power stations and (ii) optimal subsidies for “clean” alternatives with “learning” spillovers. We build a general theoretical model, and embed it in a fully calibrated integrated assessment model. Because emission reduction policy reduces investments in polluting assets, short-term emission reductions are enhanced—our “irreversibility effect”. Thus, “stranded assets” in this fuel-using sector have distinctive properties. We also provide a simple formula for how the optimal subsidy to deployment of a “clean” sector depends on its rate of “learning-by-doing” and on its socially-optimal growth. So, if the sector should grow faster for other reasons, its optimal subsidy is increased, showing that its optimal growth rate is faster still—our “acceleration effect”. Our calibrations show that, to limit global climate change to 2○C warming, investments in coal-fired power stations must end very soon. Considering second-best settings, we show that carbon taxes achieve stringent policy targets more efficiently, but subsidies to the “clean” sector deliver higher welfare, and are more efficient, when policy targets are more mild.

Keywords: Infrastructure; Clean and dirty energy inputs; Renewable energy; Stranded assets; Carbon budget; Climate policies; Green paradox (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O44 Q54 Q58 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (7) Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link)
Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link:

DOI: 10.1016/j.jeem.2019.05.001

Access Statistics for this article

Journal of Environmental Economics and Management is currently edited by M.A. Cole, A. Lange, D.J. Phaneuf, D. Popp, M.J. Roberts, M.D. Smith, C. Timmins, Q. Weninger and A.J. Yates

More articles in Journal of Environmental Economics and Management from Elsevier
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Catherine Liu ().

Page updated 2021-10-11
Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:100:y:2020:i:c:s0095069617308173