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Knowledge in pollution-saving technological change

Grover, David (2012) Knowledge in pollution-saving technological change. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis looks at the role that technical knowledge plays in the transition in industry away from pollution-intensive production methods. It uses econometric techniques and qualitative analysis to test three aspects of the relationship between knowledge and pollution-saving technological change-related outcomes, all in the context of US industry, and all with respect to conventional pollutants. The first paper observes that the level of industrial environmental R&D spending steadily declined from the late 1970s onward. Employing an estimation model with industry fixed effects, the hypothesis is tested that this decline was the result of the conditioning effect of greater flexibility in the design of the environmental policy on the environmental regulatory burden born by industry. The second paper investigates the sources of the change in SO2 intensity of electricity production undergone by electric power plants under the SO2 cap and trade program. Mixed methods including quantile regression are used to compare the effect of frontier technical knowledge on the extent of change undergone, relative to the effect of knowledge un-intensive techniques. The third paper investigates why a small number of inventions aimed at controlling pollution from automobiles turned out to be so much more technologically influential than the great majority of comparable inventions, which exerted very little technological influence at all. Negative binomial regression is used to test the effect of the composition of the stock of knowledge that the automobile companies brought to bear on the inventive process. These studies find that pollution-saving technological change is characterised more by the repurposing and adaptation of existing knowledge and by the churn among existing technologies, than by universal technological advance in dedicated environmental technologies. The implications for climate mitigation policy are discussed in the conclusions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 David Grover
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés and Neumayer, Eric

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