Firms and States Responses to Laxer Environmental Standards

Finance & Investment


On June 1, 2017, President Trump announced the United States' withdrawal from the Paris agreement on climate change. Despite this decision, American firms continued investing in low-carbon technologies and some states committed to tougher environmental standards. To understand this apparent paradox, this paper studies how a weakening of environmental standards affects the behavior of profit-maximizing firms. It finds that a relaxation of emission standards (i) may increase firms' incentives to adopt clean technologies, but not to pollute less; (ii) may negatively affect industry profitability if it is perceived as temporary; and, when this is the case, (iii) the unilateral adoption of stricter standards by large states may increase the expected profitability of every firm.




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