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Optimal CO2-abatement with Socio-economic Inertia and Induced Technological Change

The impact of induced technological change (ITC) in energy/climate models on the timing of optimal CO2-abatement depends on whether R&D or learning-by-doing (LBD) is the driving force. Bottom-up energy system models employing LBD suggest strong increases in optimal early abatement. In this paper we extend an existing top-down model supporting this view according to the notion that socio-economic inertia interferes with rapid technological change. We derive analytical results concerning the impact of inertia and ITC on optimal initial abatement and show a wide range of numerical simulations to illustrate magnitudes. Inertia now dominates the timing decision on early abatement, such that LBD might even have a negative effect on early abatement and the impact of R&D is limited. However, ITC still reduces costs of stabilizing atmospheric CO2-concentrations considerably.

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Energy Specializations: Energy and the Environment – Climate Change and Greenhouse Gases; Energy and the Environment – Environmental Market Design; Energy and the Environment – Policy and Regulation

JEL Codes:
Q54 - Climate; Natural Disasters and Their Management; Global Warming
Q56 - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
E60 - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook: General

Keywords: Climate policy, technology change, inertia, CO2 emissions

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol27-No4-2

Published in Volume 27, Number 4 of The Quarterly Journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.