Document Type

Article

Abstract

Recently, some industries have collectively agreed not to produce models that do not meet an energy efficiency (and hence an environmental) standard. This paper presents a simple model that can be used to examine a voluntary collective agreement to limit or completely eliminate the low efficiency model of a given product (e.g., a low efficiency washing machine). We show that, when there is competition between firms, a collective agreement to limit or even eliminate production of the polluting model can actually increase profits for all firms in the industry. This suggests that a collective agreement of this type might actually be beneficial to firms, while at the same time improving environmental quality. However, the implicit enforcement that comes from the public nature of the commitment is necessary to ensure this outcome. This suggests that, by promoting such agreements, policymakers may be able to achieve substantial environmental gains with relatively little inducement. The impact on social welfare will then depend on whether these gains are sufficiently large to offset consumer losses from reductions in product variety and the associated price increases.

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