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The Patchwork Quilt of Climate Change Policies: An Assessment of Voluntary and Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reduction Programs

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Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Author: Matisoff, Daniel
Date: 2009
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/9936
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
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Abstract: "Climate change policy resembles a patchwork quilt of overlapping state, national, and international policies that vary across topic areas and policy tools. This dissertation seeks to make contributions to the understanding of the adoption and implementation of climate change policy across several types of mandatory and voluntary policy including information disclosure requirements and cap-and-trade regimes. While much is known regarding the adoption of and effectiveness of different types of environmental policies, this dissertation seeks to fill in several gaps in this literature. I provide a quantitative approach to understanding state climate change policy adoption and find that state policy adoption reflects political resources, rather than geographic resources or regional diffusion. In a study of the experience of individual firms within the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme I discuss the uncertainty, complex production processes and transaction costs that limit firms’ ability to adapt to carbon regulation. Using a difference-in-differences model to compare several cases of private voluntary and state-run mandatory approaches to climate change policy, I find that private voluntary agreements are associated with improved environmental behavior which likely reflects improved management at firms. I conclude with observations regarding the relationship between the array of climate change policies. The variety of climate change policies is overlapping and can be complementary. State climate change policies represent laboratories of policy experimentation and demonstrate the potential implementation of national and international regulation for parts of the economy that are not easily addressed by cap-and-trade programs. Cap-and-trade programs are useful for large point sources, but are inefficient when low-cost strategies are not implemented. Voluntary policies may help firms find low-cost abatement strategies, market themselves as environmental leaders, and help firms better cope with the complexity and uncertainty of greenhouse gas regulation. It is important that policy-makers take advantage of these comparative strengths of different types of climate change policy."

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