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Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 66, Issue 3, pp 577–604 | Cite as

Will Technological Change Save the World? The Rebound Effect in International Transfers of Technology

  • Mare SarrEmail author
  • Tim Swanson
Article

Abstract

Technological change and its transfer to developing countries is often portrayed by policy-makers as a critical part of the solution to a resource problem such as climate change, based on the assumption that the transfer of resource-conserving technologies to developing countries will result in reduced use of natural capital by those countries. We demonstrate here, in a capital conversion based model of development, that the free transfer of resource-conserving technologies to developing countries will increase the options available to those countries, but that the way that they expend these options need not be in the direction of conserving resources. This is another example of the potential for a rebound effect to determine ultimate outcomes, here in the context of international technology transfer policy. The transfer of technologies is as likely to simply move developing countries more rapidly down the same development path as it is to alter the choices they make along that path. For this reason, the transfer of resource-conserving technologies, without incentives provided to alter development priorities, may not result in any resource-conservation at all.

Keywords

Technological change Rebound effect Development path 

JEL Classification

O33 O39 O44 Q55 Q56 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EconomicsUniversity of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of International Economics and CIESGraduate Institute of International and Development StudiesGeneva 21Switzerland

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