- Student Dissertation or Thesis
Policies to avert the threat of dangerous climate change focus on stabilizing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations by drastically reducing anthropogenic emissions of carbon. Such reductions require limiting the use of fossil fuels-which supply the bulk of energy to economic activity, and for which substitutes are lacking-which is feared will cause large energy price increases and reductions in economic welfare. However, a key determinant of the cost of emissions limits is technological change-especially innovation induced by the price changes that stem from carbon abatement itself, about which little is understood.
This thesis investigates the inducement of technological change by limits on carbon emissions, and the effects of such change on the macroeconomic cost of undertaking further reductions. The analysis is conducted using a computable general equilibrium (CGE) model of the US economy-a numerical simulation that determines aggregate welfare based on the interaction of prices with the demands for and supplies of commodities and factors across different markets. Within the model induced technical change (ITC) is represented by the effect of emissions limits on the accumulation of the economy's stock of knowledge, and by the reallocation of the intangible services generated by the stock, which are a priced input to sectoral production functions.
The results elucidate four key features of ITC: (1) the inducement process, i.e., the mechanism by which relative prices determine the level and the composition of aggregate R&D; (2) the effects of changes in R&D on knowledge accumulation in the long-run, and of contemporaneous substitution of knowledge services within and among industries; (3) the loci of sectoral changes in intangible investment and knowledge inputs induced by emissions limits; and (4) the ultimate impact of the accumulation and substitution of knowledge on economic welfare.