Environmental Policy Implications of Extreme Variations in Pollutant Stock Levels and Socioeconomic Costs
39 Pages Posted: 18 May 2007
Date Written: February 2008
Motivated by recent evidence on the possibility of jumps in carbon dioxide emission levels and abrupt increases in pollutant-related socio-economic costs, this paper uses a real options approach to examine their impact with respect to the optimal timing of environmental policies and the optimal emissions abatement level. To this end, we extend the methodology of Pindyck (2000) using jump diffusion processes. We show that if pollutant stock levels are subject to extreme variations and the emissions abatement level is chosen exogenously by the policymaker, then environmental policy measures should be taken earlier. A similar, yet more prominent, effect is observed under the assumption that pollutant-related socio-economic costs and benefits are expected to exhibit abrupt changes. However, different results are obtained when we examine simultaneously the two interrelated decisions, namely, the optimal timing of emissions abatement and the optimal abatement level. In this case, an increase in the size and/or probability of a jump, delays policy adoption but leads to higher optimal abatement.
Keywords: Q28, L51, H23
JEL Classification: Real Options, Environmental Policy, Jump Diffusion
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation