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Climate Policy and Innovation in the Absence of Commitment

Ashokankur Datta and E. Somanathan

Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, 2016, vol. 3, issue 4, 917 - 955

Abstract: We compare the effects of price and quantity instruments (an emissions tax and a quota with tradable permits) on the incentive to innovate to reduce the cost of an emission-free technology. We assume that the government cannot commit to the level of a policy instrument before R&D occurs but sets the level to be socially optimal after the results of R&D are realized. The equivalence of price and quantity instruments in inducing innovation that is seen in end-of-pipe abatement models does not hold. When the marginal cost of the dirty technology is constant, then a quota can induce R&D, but a tax is completely ineffective. However, if the marginal cost function of the dirty technology is steep enough, then both a tax and a quota with tradable permits can induce R&D, and the tax will do so in a wider range of circumstances. Furthermore, in this case, an R&D subsidy may induce R&D and raise welfare whether a tax or a quota regime is in place.

Date: 2016
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Working Paper: Climate policy and innovation in the absence of commitment (2010) Downloads
Working Paper: Climate policy and innovation in the absence of commitment (2010) Downloads
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