Magazine article Chicago Policy Review (Online)

Innovation and Climate Change: A Framework for Effective Environmental Policy

Magazine article Chicago Policy Review (Online)

Innovation and Climate Change: A Framework for Effective Environmental Policy

Article excerpt

Climate change and environmental degradation may be the greatest existential threats the world will face for generations to come. After entering in to office in January 2017, the Trump administration signaled that it would pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, dealing a blow to the spirit of global cooperation on climate change. The administration has also indicated that it will decrease R&D funding for “green” research, in addition to reevaluating or eliminating many environmental policies and regulations. These changes beg the question: What should the new U.S. environmental/climate policy agenda be outside of the Paris Climate Accord?

A recent paper published by Italian researchers, Costantini, Crespia, and Palmad, looked at the effect of public policy on the adoption of technologies that increase energy efficiency in residential buildings, and offered generalizable guidelines for how governments can develop effective environmental policies across industries. The authors compare data on policies enacted in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries aimed at increasing energy efficiency in residential buildings and patent applications in those countries for “eco-innovations” over the period 1990-2010. “Eco-innovation” is an all-encompassing term defined as any innovation in a product, service or process whose adoption or creation results in a reduction of environmental harm. Residential energy efficiency policies were chosen as a proxy for environmental policies, as improving energy efficiency is crucial in the “transition toward a low-carbon economy.” Additionally, eco-innovations are used as measures of climate progress, with technological advancement perceived as the groundwork for all carbon-reduction activities.

There are a number of factors that influence energy efficiency. In particular, the authors have examined two main policy categories: demand-pull policies and technology-push policies. Demand-pull policies increase demand in the market for eco-innovations such as subsidies for home solar systems, and technology-push policies increase scientific knowledge and the number of new technologies in the market. …

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