Center for Environmental Policy and Administration

Lessons From Patents: Using Patents To Measure Technological Change in Environmental Models

Author:David Popp
Date: August 2005
Publication: Ecological Economics, 54(2-3), August 2005, 209-226.

When studying solutions to long-term environmental problems such as climate change, it is important to consider the role that technological change may play. Nonetheless, to date few economic models of environmental policy explicitly model the link between policy and technological change. There is a growing body of evidence that the incentives offered by prices and environmental regulations have a strong influence on both the creation and adoption of new technologies. In several recent papers, I have used patent data to examine the links between environmental policy and technological change. In addition, I have used the results of this research to calibrate the ENTICE model (for ENdogenous Technological change) of climate change, which links energy-related R&D to changes in the price of carbon. Drawing on my experiences from empirical studies on innovation and from modeling the climate change problem, in this paper I review some of the key lessons from recent empirical work using patents to study environmental innovation and diffusion, and discuss its implications for modeling climate change policy. I conclude by offering suggestions for future research.


David Popp
Center for Environmental Policy and Administration
The Maxwell School, Syracuse University
Revised 11/05/2010 06:45:35