A Policy Approach to the Environmental Impacts of Technological Lock-In
Posted: 7 Jun 2013
Date Written: October 27, 2005
The broadening spectrum of environmental problems, the uncertainty regarding their scale and duration, and their posible irreversibility, in the context of the growing social preference for environmental quality, make it necessary to undertake an ex ante approach to the link between productive activity and environmental quality. This link lies in technology, and the right approach is to understand how the process of technological change can lead towards sustainability. The added value of Evolutionary Economics in the context of environmental policy resides mainly in the fact that it warns that certain inferior environmental technologies may be locked in to the economic system. The results of our model show that it would be advisable to undertake policies expressly aimed at the process of sustainable technological change – applying an ex ante (precautionary) approach – in a way that is complementary to the conventional equilibrium oriented environmental policies. The nature of these policies and how they might be implemented are questions we will address from this novel approach to the concept of sustainable development. In short, the main objectives of this paper are to understand more fully the dynamics of the process of technological change, its role in sustainable development, and to assess the implications of this dynamic approach to technoenvironmental policy. To achieve these goals we have developed an agent-based model (ABM), using distributed artificial intelligence (DAI) concepts drawn from the general methodology of social simulation.
Keywords: Technology diffusion, Standardization, Lock-in, Sustainability, Precautionary approach, Evolutionary models, Agent-based models
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