WP 2020.23 The Economics of Volcanoes

Published in Economics of Disasters and Climate Change 

Johanna Choumert-Nkolo – Anaïs Lamour – Pascale Phélinas

Volcanic hazards pose a potential threat to 8% of the world’s population, yet the economic literature on their short- and long-term consequences on household behavior and economic development is still in its infancy. In this article, we present the state of the literature and highlight knowledge gaps and methodological challenges inherent to the economic analysis of volcanic hazards and disasters. We first present the physical aspects of volcanic activity and describe available physical data. We then examine the concepts related to cost assessment of volcanic disasters. Finally, we discuss key micro and macroeconomic research questions economists should investigate and identify relevant methodological and data challenges. By highlighting research gaps in the “economics of volcanoes”, we provide future avenues of research that will address policy-relevant debates in the context of greater focus on risk mitigation, adaptation, and resilience policies aimed at mitigating natural hazards and disasters.

WP 2020.22 Optimal climate policy when warming rate matters

Nicolas Taconet

Studies of the Social Cost of Carbon assume climate change is a stock externality for which damages stem from warming level. However, economic and natural systems are also sensitive to the rate at which warming occurs. In this paper, I study the optimal carbon tax when such a feature is accounted for. Damages caused by warming rates do not aect optimal long-term warming, but they delay the use of the same carbon budget. They also make carbon price less sensitive to discounting assumptions. Numerically, when controlling for the welfare loss from climate change, the more
damages stem from warming rates rather than warming levels, the higher the initial carbon price. This suggests that mitigation strategies that overlook this issue might lead to too rapidly increasing temperature pathways.

WP 2020.21 Behavioral intervention to conserve energy in the workplace

Valeria Fanghella – Giovanna d’Adda – Massimo Tavoni

This study investigates the effect of a large-scale behavioral intervention to conserve energy in the workplace, consisting of an energy-saving competition among a bank’s branches. More than 500 branches were involved for a period of one year. Using a difference-in-difference estimation, we find that the competition significantly reduces monthly electricity consumption outside the work schedule (by 7 percent), but that overall energy use does not change significantly (reduction of 2.5 percent). Branch characteristics do not lead to differentiated program response, in stark contrast with the residential sector. In the same setting, we also evaluate a technological intervention automating building energy management. The retrofit leads to significant energy savings (of 18 percent), also concentrated outside the main work schedule. Our results stress the importance of considering contextual characteristics when implementing behavioral programs and show potential overlaps with smart technology investments.

WP 2020.20 Catastrophes, delays, and learning

Matti Liski – François Salanié

How to plan for catastrophes that may be under way? In a simple but general model of experimentation, a decision-maker chooses a flow variable contributing to a stock that may trigger a catastrophe at each untried level. Once triggered, the catastrophe itself occurs only after a stochastic delay. Consequently, the rhythm of past experimentations determines the arrival of information. This has strong implications for policies in situations where the planner inherits a history of ex- periments, like climate change and pandemic crisis. The structure encompasses canonical approaches in the literature.

WP 2020.19 Carbon-neutral future with sectorcoupling; relative role of different mitigation options in energy sector

Behrang Shirizadeh

Many studies have analyzed the energy mix at national and continental scales, suggesting different low-carbon mixes for future energy systems. While there is abundant literature on the energy mix for different sectors, fewer studies deal with achieving the goal of deep decarbonization using sector-coupling. Moreover, they suffer from limited representation of emerging low-carbon options and incomplete coverage of the main energy sectors. We develop an integrated optimization of dispatch and investment model for the whole energy sector, enabling full sector-coupling and applying this model to the French energy system we study the synergies of sector-coupling among different energy vectors, as well as the role of each low-carbon energy supply technology and the impact of the social cost of carbon in reaching an optimal carbon-neutral or negative CO2-emitting energy mix of France in 2050. Our results suggest that a social cost of carbon of €200/tCO2 will achieve carbon-neutrality, and accounting for unfavorable future conditions, €300/tCO2 can assure this target. In the presence of the social cost of carbon renewables become the main source of the primary energy supply (up to more than 80% of the primary energy supply). Exclusion of nuclear energy from the energy supply side has a minor impact on both emission reduction and cost-optimality. A fully electrified heat sector and a highly gas-dependent transport sector fueled with renewable gas help reaching carbon-neutrality at the lowest cost.

WP 2020.18 Comparing volume and blend renewable energy mandates under a carbon budget

Jean-Pierre Amigues – Ujjayant Chakravorty – Gilles Lafforgue – Michel Moreaux

In order to encourage substitution of fossil fuels by cleaner renewables, regulatory agencies have generally chosen between two types of renewable energy standards. They have either mandated a minimum volume of renewable energy as in the case of ethanol in transport fuels, and for electricity in Texas and Iowa. Or they have specified a minimum blend (share) of renewables in the energy supply mix as in California, Michigan and many other states. This paper uses a simple model to compare the dynamic effects of these two policies. We show that a volume mandate leads to a lower energy price, induces a greater subsidy on clean energy and a smaller fossil fuel tax than the blend mandate. The volume mandate also leads to larger cumulative renewable energy use over the time horizon. We illustrate the model with plausible parameter values and show that the two energy mandates lead to large differences in fossil fuel taxes and clean energy subsidies.

WP 2020.17 Carbon Curse in Developed Countries

Published in Energy Economics (2020), 90, 104829.

Mireille Chiroleu-Assouline – Mouez Fodha – Yassine Kirat

Among the ten countries with the highest carbon intensity, six are natural resource-rich countries. This suggests the existence of a carbon curse: resource-rich countries would tend to follow more carbon-intensive development paths than resource-poor countries. We investigate this assumption empirically using a panel data method covering 29 countries (OECD and BRIC) and seven sectors over the 1995-2009 period. First, at the macroeconomic level, we find that the relationship between national CO2 emissions per unit of GDP and abundance in natural resources is U-shaped. The carbon curse appears only after the turning point. Second, we measure the impact of resource abundance on sectoral emissions for two groups of countries based on their resource endowments. We show that a country rich in natural resources pollutes relatively more in resource related sectors as well as all other sectors. Our results suggest that the debate on climate change mitigation should rather focus on a comparison of resource-rich countries versus resource-poor countries than the developed-country versus developing-country debate.

WP 2020.16 Emissions Trading with Transaction Cost

Published in Journal of Environmental Economics and Management (2021), 108, 102468.

Marc Baudry – Anouk Faure – Simon Quemin

We develop an equilibrium model of emissions permit trading in the presence of fixed and proportional trading costs in which the permit price and firms’ participation in and extent of trading are endogenously determined. We analyze the sensitivity of the equilibrium to changes in the trading costs and firms’ allocations, and characterize situations where the trading costs alternatively depress or raise permit prices relative to frictionless market conditions. We calibrate our model to annual transaction and compliance data in Phase II of the EU ETS (2008-2012) which we consolidate at the firm level. We find that trading costs in the order of 10 k€ per annum plus 1€ per permit traded substantially reduce discrepancies between observations and theoretical predictions for firms’ behavior (e.g. autarkic compliance). Our simulations suggest that ignoring trading costs leads to an underestimation of the price impacts of supply-curbing policies, this difference varying with the incidence on firms.

WP 2020.15 Qui émet du CO2? Panorama critique des inégalités écologiques en France

Antonin Pottier – Emmanuel Combet – Jean-Michel Cayla – Simona de Lauretis – Franck Nadaud

This article provides an overview of the inequalities in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions between French households. It presents in a detailed and critical manner the methodological conventions used to compute “household emissions”, and the related assumptions. The most common principle of attribution, the carbon footprint, which assigns to households the emissions of the products they consume, conveys implicit conceptions of responsibility. It focuses attention on the contributions of individuals, on their choices, and may obscure the role of non-individual actors as well as the collective component of GHG emissions, and neglect the dimensions of responsibility not related to consumption choices.
We estimate the distribution of household carbon footprints based on data from the 2011 French Expenditure Survey. Household emissions tend to increase with income, but they also show a strong variability linked to geographical and technical factors that force to use fossil fuels.
Based on sectoral surveys (ENTD 2008; PHEBUS 2013), we also reconstruct household CO2 emissions linked to housing and transport energy. For transport, emissions are proportional to the distances travelled due to the predominant use of private cars. Urban settlement patterns constraint both the length of daily commuting and access to less carbon-intensive modes of transport. For housing, while house size increases with income and distance from urban centres, the first factor to account for variability of emissions is the heating system. It has little to do with income but more to do with settlement patterns, which constrain access to the various energy carriers.
Finally, we discuss the difficulties, both technical and conceptual, involved in estimating emissions from the super-rich (the top 1 percent).

WP 2020.14 The market for “harmful component-free” products under pressure from the NGOs

Dorothée Brécard – Mireille Chiroleu-Assouline

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are exerting growing pressure on firms to eliminate product components (such as palm oil) that are harmful to the environment (such as rainforests) or replace such components with NGO-certified sustainable components. Under which conditions does NGO pressure lead firms to eliminate basic components from their products or, alternatively, substitute damaging components with certified sustainable components? What are the ensuing effects on market structure, environmental quality, and social welfare? The paper addresses these issues using a model of two-dimensional vertical product differentiation. It shows that, for an NGO that collects certification fees to accrue its budget and finance its awareness campaign, it may — paradoxically — be optimal to reduce the certified product’s market share and eventually evict it.

WP 2020.13 Carbon Dioxide Emissions and aging: Disentangling behavior from energy efficiency

Published in Annals of Economics and Statistics (2021), 143, 71-103.

Dorothée Charlier – Bérengère Legendre

Demographic aging affects Western societies and calls for the adaptation of a number of economic structures, such as pension systems. But this trend requires us to take into account the behavioral changes inherent in aging if we are develop sustainably, specifically concerning resource consumption and carbon dioxide emissions in the context of global warming. The aim of this research is to assess the impact of aging on emissions by disentangling the pure effect of behavioral patterns and the effect of home energy efficiency. Showing that a selection bias arises through the choice of home, we isolate the pure effect of the behavior of older people. We use a discrete-continuous model to address potential endogeneity in a residential energy consumption model due to the choice of home energy characteristics. As a key contribution, we provide evidence that age does have a significant but indirect impact on carbon dioxide emissions, through the choice of dwelling.

WP 2020.12 How Environmental Policies Spread ? A Network Approach to Diffusion in the U.S.

Côme Billard – Anna Creti – Antoine Mandel

In this paper, we reconstruct the network of environmental policies diffusion across American states from 1974 to 2018. Our results highlight an inefficient structure, suggesting lags in policy spreading. We identify Minnesota, California and Florida to be the main “facilitators” of the dynamics. Targeting them ensures the maximum likelihood of policy diffusion across the country. We then evaluate the determinants of the inferred network. Our results emphasize the role of contiguity and wealth in policy transmission. We also find sustainable economic systems as well as state’s expected economic losses due to climate change as critical factors of environmental policy flows.

WP 2020.11 Promoting discount schemes as a nudge strategy to enhance environmental behaviour

Julie Metta

This paper presents the effects of nudging and of direct instruments on the consumer choice for reusable cups instead of disposable cups. The instruments include a financial incentive (discount schemes for consumers bringing their own cup) and communication about the scheme. The required conditions for the shop policy to be effective (i.e. induce a change in consumer behaviour through direct and indirect communication) are also evaluated. An original database was compiled from structured observations over 223 Hong Kong coffee shops, where 522 data points were collected. The research questions are answered using two strategies. First, logistic econometric approaches estimate the effects of the policies on consumer behaviour. Secondly, a qualitative comparative analysis identifies the required conditions for the consumers to use reusable cups. The results show no significant effect of the financial incentive on the targeted consumers but positive and significant effects on the other consumers who switch to in-shop reusable cups instead of disposable cups. Through effective communication about the “environment-friendly” shop policy, coffee shops affect the consumer behaviour towards reusable cups positively. I observe that nudges have higher effects than financial instruments on consumer behavioural change even when the settings account for strong conservative behaviours. The analysis of coffee shop typologies reports that coffee shops targeting a wealthier audience are more likely to achieve policy goals through nudge strategy.

WP 2020.10 Recycling under environmental, climate and resource constraints

Published in Resource and Energy Economics (2022), 67, 101278.

Gilles Lafforgue – Etienne Lorang

We study the recycling opportunity of an industrial sector constrained by climate, resource and waste capacities. A final good is produced from virgin and recycled materials, and its consumption releases both waste and GHG emissions. We identify the optimal trajectories of resources use, mainly depending on the emission rates of each resource and on the relative scarcity of their stocks. Recycling is sometimes an opportunity to reduce the impact of consumption on primary resources and waste but can still affect the environment. We characterize the optimal recycling strategy and we show that, in some cases, the time pace of the recycling rate is inverted U-shaped. Last, we discuss the policy implications of our model by identifying and analyzing the set of optimal tax-subsidy schemes.

WP 2020.09 Confronting climate change: Adaptation vs. migration strategies in Small Island Developing States

Lesly Cassin – Paolo Melindi Ghidi – Fabien Prieur

This paper examines the optimal adaptation policy of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to cope with climate change. We build a dynamic optimization problem to incorporate the following ingredients: (i) local production uses labor and natural capital, which is degraded as a result of climate change; (ii) governments have two main policy options: control migration and/or conventional adaptation measures ; (iii) migration decisions drive changes in the population size; (iv) expatriates send remittances back home. We show that the optimal policy depends on the interplay between the two policy instruments that can be either complements or substitutes depending on the individual characteristics and initial conditions. Using a numerical analysis based on the calibration of the model for different SIDS, we identify that only large islands use the two tools from the beginning, while for the smaller countries, there is a substitution between migration and conventional adaption at the initial period.

WP 2020.08 A simple Ricardo‐Malthusian model of population, deforestation and biodiversity loss

Laté Ayao Lawson

This paper assesses the interactions between human societies and nature, arguing that population growth and forest resources harvest cause natural habitat conversion, which resolves into biodiversity loss. Relying on profit and utility maximization behaviours, we describe the joint evolution of population, forest and species stock by a dynamic system characterized by a locally stable steady state. Compared to existing studies, we dissociate forest cover from species stock and enlighten the possibility of total extinction of biological species (empty forests). Our analysis supports an impossible peaceful cohabitation, as in presence of human population growth, forest resources and species stock diverge from their carrying capacity. Finally, scenarios analyses associated with high fertility and preference for the resource-based good globally indicate rapid population growth followed by a sudden drop: a collapse.

WP 2020.07 Optimal Environmental Radical Activism

Mireille Chiroleu-Assouline – Ariane Lambert-Mogiliansky

We study the problem faced by activists who want to maximize firms’ compliance with high environmental standards. Our focus is on radical activism which relies on non-violent civil disobedience. Disruptive actions and the threat thereof are used to force firms to concede i.e., to engage in self-regulation. We address the optimal use of scarce activist resources in face of incomplete information by looking at a general mechanism, directly adapted from Myerson’s (1981) optimal auction theory. The characterization informs that the least vulnerable and most polluting firms should be targeted with disruptive actions while the others are granted a guarantee not to be targeted in exchange for a concession. This characterization allows studying the determinants of the activist’s strength and how it is affected by repression, a central feature for civil disobedience. We find that optimal radical activism is relatively resilient to repression. In an extension that accounts for asymmetry between firms’abatement cost, we find that the mechanism optimizes the allocation of abatment efforts and creates incentives for innovation. We discuss some other welfare properties of optimal activism.

WP 2020.06 Optimism on Pollution-Driven Disasters and Asset Prices

Shiba Suzuki – Hiroaki Yamagami

This study explores how investors’ optimism about the likelihood of pollution-driven disaster occurrence affects asset prices. Environmental pollution resulting from economic activities raises the probability of disaster occurrence. However, the relationship between economic activities, pollution, and disaster occurrence is difficult to ascertain. Thus, investors make decisions based on subjective expectation; specifically, they subjectively evaluate the probability of disaster occurrence to be lower than its objective probability. As demonstrated in this study, the equity premiums under conditions of objective expectation are significantly higher than those under subjective expectation conditions only if a representative agent has high Intertemporal Elasticity of Substitution (IES). This discrepancy in asset returns is related to the propensity of individuals to discount events occurring in the “distant future” as described in existing literature.

WP 2020.05 Does Becoming Richer Lead to a Reduction in Natural Resource Consumption? An Empirical Refutation of the Kuznets Material Curve

Dorothée Charlier – Florian Fizaine

During the last three decades, many industrializing countries have experienced economic growth, which concurred with a substantial increase in the use of materials. This fact questions the relationship between the use of biomass, fossil fuels and minerals and economic growth. Using a Material Kuznets Curve framework, this study investigates whether material use spontaneously reaches a maximum for a given level of development and declines thereafter. Using a new indicator, the material footprint (that quantifies all materials extracted to produce a country’s final demand, including materials embodied in imports), we investigate this nexus confronting for the first-time different methodologies in a same empirical study. More especially, we measure the evolution of material footprint (per capita) elasticity to gdp (per capita) in four different ways. As main results, all models lead to a same nature and seem to indicate a strong and permanent link between economic growth/ economic development and raw material consumption. There is no sign of strong decoupling. Improving development and adoption of technologies becomes an emergency.

WP 2020.04 Fuel Poverty and Health: a Panel Data Analysis

Forthcoming in Revue d’Economie Politique.

Romanic Baudu – Dorothée Charlier – Bérangère Legendre

Protecting and improving health and mitigation of climate change have a shared agenda. In this paper, we contribute to the literature by assessing the link between fuel poverty and health over a lengthy recent period. Using dynamic probit models, we examine the influence of fuel poverty on health. We control for state dependency of health as we regard health status to be closely related to previous health trajectories. Considering that unobserved heterogeneity might influence health status and fuel poverty simultaneously, we have corrected for the endogeneity bias that could affect our results. We conclude that being fuel-poor increases the risk of bad health by slightly more than a factor of 7 for those whose health is already poor and by 1.82 for those in good health. For policy makers, combatting fuel poverty reduces sources of discomfort which might also severely affect the health of a dwelling’s inhabitants.

WP 2020.03 The effects of migration and pollution on cognitive skills in Caribbean economies: a theoretical analysis

Published in Environment and Development Economics (2020), 25, 657-686.

Lesly Cassin

This work analyses the interaction between demographic features and environmental constraints in the Caribbean Small Island Developing States. More specifically, it aims to clarify the impact of migration in the presence of pollution. To do so, an Intergenerational model is developed to reproduce the characteristics of these countries, which are highly dependent on migration gains such as brain gain or remittances. Moreover, production emits pollution that hinders the accumulation of human capital. Two cases emerge from the analysis, in the first an environmental policy is sufficient to correct the externality and in this case migration implies the same mechanisms as in the case without pollution. In the second case, if pollution emissions are high relative to the effectiveness of environmental policy, migration leads to an increase in per capita output and human capital. This only happens if the emigration rate is already high, because it leads to a reduction in demographic pressure on the environment.

WP 2020.02 Individual preferences regarding pesticide-free management of green-spaces: a discret choice experiment with French citizens

Published in Revue Economique (2021), 72, 947-967.

Pauline Laille – Marianne Lefebvre – Masha Maslianskaia-Pautrel

To comply with the pesticide ban in effect in French urban green spaces (UGSs), managers have to modify their practices. Understanding citizens’ preferences for UGSs whose characteristics are modified by the pesticide ban is a useful complement to technical research on alternatives to pesticides. We use a discrete choice experiment run online on a representative sample of the French population to analyze preferences towards characteristics of direct interest to the users (visual aspect, recreational opportunities, and information campaigns on pesticide-free UGSs) and less visible characteristics such as fauna abundance, working conditions, or the budget dedicated to the maintenance of such areas. We find that all chosen attributes have a significant impact on respondents’ choice of UGS option. All citizens largely devalue options generating a major budget increase, but preferences towards other attributes are shaped by visit frequency to UGSs. Most users prefer a natural visual aspect to a controlled aspect, but this preference is even greater for frequent visitors. Visit frequency affects in particular preferences towards fauna abundance (valued only by those who frequently visit UGSs) and information campaigns (valued only by those who do not frequently visit UGSs).

WP 2020.01 Technology Contagion in Networks

Published in Climate Policy (2021), 21, 719-744.

Côme Billard

We represent a social system as a network of agents and model the process of technology diffusion as a contagion propagating in such a network. By setting the necessary conditions for an agent to switch (ie. to adopt the technology), we address the question of how to maximize the contagion of a technology subject to a Moore’s law (eg. solar modules) in a network of agents. We focus the analysis on the effects of the network structure and technological learning on diffusion. To this end, we study three classes of networks, namely lattice, small-world and random networks. Our numerical results show that both the lattice and the small-world networks facilitate the contagion. These networks exhibit high levels of clustering, and additional contacts increase the probability of contagion through social reinforcement. Conversely, networks exhibiting short path length and a low level of clustering (ie. random networks) guarantee an equivalent speed of diffusion with smaller ranges (ie. variance) in terms of aggregate adoption. Whatever the structure, learning effects are critical for contagion to spread in agents networks.

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