The Ecological Opportunity
Science, Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship series
Edited by Blandine Laperche, Nadine Levratto and Dimitri Uzunidis
Chapter 2: The Emergence of Ecological Opportunities and Firms’ Behaviour
Blandine Laperche and Nadine Levratto INTRODUCTION The threat of climate change, potentially produced by the growing accumulation of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere, has led to an increasing number of papers and reports which have pointed out the crucial role of technological change either to solve or to reduce the intensity of that problem. As a means to increase output without an increase in productive inputs, technological change is presented as a way of making it a possible change in running practices. Historical evidence (Grübler and Messner, 1998) and economic theory (Griliches, 1992) confirm that advances in technological knowledge are the most important contributing factors to long-term productivity and economic growth. Even if innovation can be impaired by uncertainty about the beneficiaries of the returns and the effective cost of investments close to research and development, an abundant literature considers that firms may play a major role in the transition towards a green economy and offers various explanations for that phenomenon: firms may deliberately curtail emissions to anticipate stricter regulations, or to induce regulatory authorities to tighten up standards so as to raise the cost of compliance for their competitors (Sassone, 1992; Arora and Cason, 1995). Moreover, and broadly speaking, eco-innovation may be considered as a new investment opportunity.1 It may take the form of incremental to radical changes in products, services, and processes supplied or implemented by firms with the aim of obtaining environmental gains. It also encompasses more social and institutional changes that in turn, make...
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