Non-Cooperative and Cooperative Climate Policies with Anticipated Breakthrough Technology

Mar 2017 | 190

Authors: Rick Van der Ploeg Niko Jaakkola


Global warming can be curbed by pricing carbon emissions and thus substituting fossil fuel with renewable energy consumption. Breakthrough technologies (e.g., fusion energy) can reduce the cost of such policies. However, the chance of such a technology coming to market depends on investment. We model breakthroughs as an irreversible tipping point in a multi-country world, with different degrees of international cooperation. We show that international spill-over effects of R&D in carbon-free technologies lead to double free-riding, strategic over-pollution and underinvestment in green R&D, thus making climate change mitigation more difficult. We also show how the demand structure determines whether carbon pricing and R&D policies are substitutes or complements.

JEL Codes: D2, D90, H23, Q35, Q38, Q54, Q58

Keywords: global warming, carbon pricing, renewable R&D, tipping point, international cooperation, non-cooperative policies, feedback Nash equilibrium


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