Policy Uncertainty, Investment and Commitment Periods
Today’s investment decisions in key sectors such as energy, forestry or transport have significant impacts on the levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the coming decades. Given the economic and environmental long-term implications of capital investment and retirement, a climate mitigation regime should aim to encourage capital investment in climate-friendly technologies. Many factors affect technology choice and the timing of investment, including investor expectations about future prices and policies. Recent international discussions have focused on the importance of providing more certainty about future climate policy stringency. The design of commitment periods can play a role in creating this environment. This paper assesses how the length of commitment periods influences policy uncertainty and investment decisions. In particular, the paper analyses the relationship between commitment period length and near term investment decisions in climate friendly technology.