A. Bergquist, Kristina Söderholm, Hanna Kinneryd
This paper addresses the issue of environmental policy instrument choice for achieving deep emission reductions in the industrial sector. Specifically, it provides: (a) a theoretical and empirical review of the conditions under which performance standards can provide efficient incentives for deep emission reductions and technology adoption; and (b) an analysis of the design and the outcomes of the standards-based regulation of industrial pollutants in Sweden during the period 1970–1990. Our empirical findings suggest that the Swedish regulatory approach comprised many key elements of an efficient policy-induced transition towards radically lower emissions in the metal smelting and pulp and paper industries. The regulation relied solely on performance standards, thus granting flexibility to firms in terms of selecting the appropriate compliance measures. These standards were implemented in combination with extended compliance periods. R&D projects and the new knowledge that was advanced incrementally in interaction between the company, the environmental authorities and research institutions provided a direct catalyst to the regulatory process. In these ways the Swedish regulatory approach provided scope for creative solutions, environmental innovation, and permitted the affected companies to coordinate pollution abatement measures with productive investments.