Environmental Policy with Green Consumerism
Is green consumerism beneficial to the environment and the economy? To shed light on this question, we study the political economy of environmental regulations in a model with neutral and green consumers where the latter derive some warm glow from buying a good of higher environmental quality produced by a profit-maximizing monopoly, while the good bought by neutral consumers is provided by a competitive fringe. Consumers unanimously vote for a standard set at a lower than first-best level, or for a tax delivering the first-best environmental protection level. Despite its under-provision of environmental protection, the standard dominates the tax from a welfare perspective due to its higher productive efficiency, i.e., a smaller gap between the environmental qualities of the two goods supplied. In stark contrast, voters unanimously prefer a tax to a standard when the willingness to pay for greener goods is small enough.
Stefan Ambec and Philippe De Donder: "Environmental Policy with Green Consumerism", EconPol Working Paper 49, December 2020