Newsflashes from the B-School

You might think that business schools would take the same views of policy as the Chamber of Commerce, but that’s not necessarily true.  The Haas School here at Berkeley has a very interesting energy blog.  I don’t always find their conclusions congenial but they’re always interesting.  Here are some recent posts:

Information and energy use.  This post reports a study showing that consumers respond vigorously to improved information about the costs of energy use.  Viva la smart meter!

Linking emissions trading systems.  Linking trading systems seems simple, but the devil is in the details.  A one-tone carbon credit in one system doesn’t necessarily correspond to a one-ton credit in another.  But perhaps trading systems are too reluctant to link, undermining some of the benefits of trading. The author points out that economists think of cap-and-trade as a quantity limitation, but in reality the quantity cap is loose due to leakage.

Using fossil fuel expansion to fund breakthrough technologies. This post advocates allowing Keystone and other fossil fuel ventures, but taxing them to finance R&D on breakthrough energy technologies that will be able to compete even with $20/barrel oil.

The energy efficiency gap.  Do consumers really value energy-efficient technologies?  There’s some dispute among economists, given the energy efficiency usually results in some change in other product characteristics.  This post argues that the steady decline in energy intensity supports the existence of an energy gap, since it shows a shift toward more efficient use of energy.

Don’t get the impression that the blog is always good news for environmentalists — the blog doesn’t pull its punches when its critiquing the conventional environmental wisdom.  But if you want an honest economic perspective on energy issues, the Haas folks have something to offer.

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