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EPRG 0917

Thomas Weber and Karsten Neuhoff

Carbon Markets and Technological Innovation

EPRG 0917 Non-Technical Summary | PDF

Also published in:

  • Weber, T. A. and Neuhoff, K. (2010), Carbon Markets and Technological Innovation, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 60(2)

Abstract: This paper examines the effects of firm-level innovation in carbon-abatement technologies on optimal cap-and-trade schemes with and without price controls. We characterize optimal cap-and-trade regulation with a price cap and price floor, and compare it to the individual cases of pure taxation and simple emissions cap. Innovation shifts the trade-off between price- and quantity-based instruments towards quantity-based emissions trading schemes. More specifically, an increase in innovation effectiveness lowers the optimal emissions cap, and leads to relaxed price controls unless the slope of the marginal environmental damage cost curve is small. Because of the decrease in the emissions cap, innovation in abatement technologies can lead to a higher expected carbon price, so as to provide sufficient incentives for private R&D investments. The expected carbon price decreases once innovative technologies are widely used.

Keywords: Carbon Emissions; Carbon Taxes; Cap-and-Trade; Environmental Regulation; Induced Technological Innovation; Price Caps; Price Floors; Prices vs. Quantities.