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Impact of cap-and-trade policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions on U.S. households

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  • Shammin, Md Rumi
  • Bullard, Clark W.
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    Abstract

    Proposals being considered by the U.S. Congress would establish a cap-and-trade system to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions approximately 2% annually through 2050. Past cap-and-trade policies for other pollutants have distributed allowances free to the regulated companies, leaving consumers uncompensated for passed-through costs needed to achieve the required reductions. Social equity concerns were not a major issue because the total costs were relatively small. However, Americans currently spend about $1Â trillion/year on energy, directly and indirectly via the goods and services they consume. If a cap on carbon emissions results in significant increases in energy prices, social equity concerns could quickly dominate the debate over climate policy. This paper confirms earlier studies that a traditional cap-and-trade policy is regressive and would cause the cost of reducing GHG emissions to fall disproportionately on low income households. This paper explores ways to ameliorate those effects, using highly disaggregated data available on consumer expenditures and energy-input-output analyses of the U.S. economy. Emissions are estimated based on direct and embodied energy use at the household level. Social equity concerns are taken into account and the consequences of cap-and-trade policies are assessed by quantifying the extent to which the expenditure patterns of the poor are significantly more energy intensive than those of the rich.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

    Volume (Year): 68 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 8-9 (June)
    Pages: 2432-2438

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:68:y:2009:i:8-9:p:2432-2438

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

    Related research

    Keywords: Cap-and-trade Regressive impact of climate change policy Carbon tax and rebate GHG emission reduction Equity and fairness of climate legislation;

    References

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    Cited by:
    1. Bristow, Abigail L. & Wardman, Mark & Zanni, Alberto M. & Chintakayala, Phani K., 2010. "Public acceptability of personal carbon trading and carbon tax," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(9), pages 1824-1837, July.
    2. Harrison Fell & Shanjun Li & Anthony Paul, 2012. "A New Look at Residential Electricity Demand Using Household Expenditure Data," Working Papers 2012-04, Colorado School of Mines, Division of Economics and Business.
    3. Kallbekken, Steffen & Sælen, Håkon, 2011. "Public acceptance for environmental taxes: Self-interest, environmental and distributional concerns," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(5), pages 2966-2973, May.
    4. Corbett A. Grainger & Charles D. Kolstad, 2009. "Who Pays a Price on Carbon?," NBER Working Papers 15239, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Kallbekken, Steffen & Aasen, Marianne, 2010. "The demand for earmarking: Results from a focus group study," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(11), pages 2183-2190, September.
    6. Burtraw, Dallas & Sweeney, Richard & Walls, Margaret, 2009. "The Incidence of U.S. Climate Policy: Alternative Uses of Revenues from a Cap-and-Trade Auction," Discussion Papers dp-09-17-rev, Resources For the Future.
    7. Anderson, Blake & M'Gonigle, Michael, 2012. "Does ecological economics have a future?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 37-48.
    8. Dissou, Yazid & Siddiqui, Muhammad Shahid, 2014. "Can carbon taxes be progressive?," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 88-100.

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