Carbon Taxes and Innovation without Commitment
The B.E. Journals in Economic Analysis & Policy 10 (1), 2010
Climate mitigation policy should be imposed over a long period, and spur innovation of new technologies in order to make stabilization of green house gas concentration economically feasible. The government may announce current and future policy packages that stimulate current R&D in climate-friendly technologies. However, once climate-friendly technologies have been developed, the government may have no incentive to implement the pre-announced future policies, that is, there may be a time inconsistency problem. We show that if the government can optimally subsidize R&D today, there is no time inconsistency problem. Thus, lack of commitment is not an argument for higher current R&D subsidies than the first-best subsidy. If the offered R&D subsidy is lower than the optimal subsidy, the current (sub-game perfect) carbon tax rate exceeds the first-best carbon tax rate.