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Four Essays in the Law and Economics of Novel Technologies

Pfrommer, Tobias Oliver

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Abstract

Novel technologies have changed and continue to change modern life. While providing enormous benefits to society, novel technologies often involve unknown risks. When these risks fall on other agents, as is often the case, the problem of risk externalities emerges. Liability is a ubiquitous and heavily researched instrument for regulating risk externalities and the instrument on which this dissertation focuses. There are two parts to this dissertation. The first part examines the relationship between liability rules and novel technologies from a general perspective. The second part concentrates on a specific novel technology, solar geoengineering.

The first part focuses on the interaction between learning about novel risks and liability regulation. While the analysis of liability rules is usually undertaken in static settings, novel technologies create a dynamic relationship between liability regimes and the technologies they govern. Risks emerging from novel technologies are uncertain and poorly understood. Liability regimes infl uence if and how novel technologies are adopted, shaping the incentives for the potential use of novel technologies. Consequently, a dynamic interaction arises between how liability regimes govern novel technologies and the learning that takes place about novel technologies' potential risks. The first part's main contribution is the introduction of a learning mechanism operating at the post-market stage that provides an economic rationale for the widespread use of exemptions for harm arising from novel risks found in the US, the EU and beyond.

The second part of this dissertation investigates the relationship between liability and solar geoengineering. Potential risks from solar geoengineering are a widespread and serious concern, making governance an overarching topic in the solar geoengineering literature. Liability regimes, specifically, have received considerable attention in the debate. The second part first examines the challenge of causation in climate litigation in an interdisciplinary research effort, taking into account the incentive structure of evidence production in a climate liability trial and its repercussions for overcoming the challenge of causation. It then provides an analytical model of solar geoengineering liability, considering the unique solar geoengineering incentive structure. Lastly, the second part extends the literature on assessing regional differences emerging from solar geoengineering, by considering climate preferences diverging from historic climate conditions. In that, it sheds further light on structural dimensions of regional solar geoengineering disagreement, contributing to the understanding of the solar geoengineering governance problem more generally.

Item Type: Dissertation
Supervisor: Goeschl, Prof. Dr. Timo
Date of thesis defense: 10 September 2018
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2018 12:29
Date: 2018
Faculties / Institutes: The Faculty of Economics and Social Studies > Alfred-Weber-Institut for Economics
Subjects: 300 Social sciences
330 Economics
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