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Optimal Carbon Tax with a Dirty Backstop - Oil, Coal, or Renewables?

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  • Frederick van der Ploeg
  • Cees Withagen

Abstract

Optimal climate policy is studied. Coal, the abundant resource, contributes more CO2 per unit of energy than the exhaustible resource, oil. We characterize the optimal sequencing oil and coal and departures from the Herfindahl rule. “Preference reversal” can take place. If coal is very dirty compared to oil, there is no simultaneous use. Else, the optimal outcome starts with oil, before using oil and coal together, and finally coal on its own. The “laissez-faire” outcome uses coal forever or starts with oil until it is no longer profitable to do so and then switches to coal. The optimum requires a steeply rising CO2 tax during the oil-only phase and a less steeply rising CO2 tax during the subsequent oil-coal and coal-only phases to avoid the abrupt switch from oil to coal thus leaving a lot of oil in situ. Finally, we analyze the effects on the optimal transition times and carbon tax of a carbon-free, albeit expensive backstop (solar or wind). Without a carbon tax, a prohibitive coal tax leads to less oil in situ, substantially delays introduction of renewable, and thus curbs global warming substantially. Subsidizing renewables to just below the cost of coal does not affect the oil-only phase. The gain in green welfare dominates the welfare cost of the subsidy if the subsidy gap is small and the global warming challenge is acute.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3334.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3334

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Related research

Keywords: Herfindahl rule; Hotelling rule; non-renewable resource; dirty backstop; coal; global warming; carbon tax; renewables; tax on coal; subsidy on renewables;

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References

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  1. Frederick Van der Ploeg & Cees A. Withagen, 2010. "Is There Really a Green Paradox?," CESifo Working Paper Series 2963, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Acemoglu, Daron & Aghion, Philippe & Bursztyn, Leonardo & Hemous, David, 2010. "The Environment and Directed Technical Change," Seminar Papers 762, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
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  5. Sinn, Hans-Werner, . "Das grüne Paradoxon ; Plädoyer für eine illusionsfreie Klimapolitik," Monographs in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics, number 19627, September.
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  9. Mikhail Golosov & John Hassler & Per Krusell & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2011. "Optimal Taxes on Fossil Fuel in General Equilibrium," NBER Working Papers 17348, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Lewis, Tracy R, 1982. "Sufficient Conditions for Extracting Least Cost Resource First," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1081-83, July.
  11. Valentina Bosetti & Carlo Carraro & Romain Duval & Alessandra Sgobbi & Massimo Tavoni, 2009. "The Role of R&D and Technology Diffusion in Climate Change Mitigation: New Perspectives Using the WITCH Model," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 664, OECD Publishing.
  12. Hoel, Michael, 1983. "Monopoly resource extractions under the presence of predetermined substitute production," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 201-212, June.
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  14. R. Quentin Grafton & Tom Kompas & Ngo Van Long, 2010. "Biofuels Subsidies and the Green Paradox," CESifo Working Paper Series 2960, CESifo Group Munich.
  15. Chakravorty, Ujjayant & Krulce, Darrell L, 1994. "Heterogeneous Demand and Order of Resource Extraction," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(6), pages 1445-52, November.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Michielsen, T.O., 2011. "Brown Backstops versus the Green Paradox (Replaced by CentER DP 2011-110)," Discussion Paper 2011-076, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  2. Renaud Coulomb & Fanny Henriet, 2014. "The Grey Paradox: How Oil Owners Can Benefit From Carbon Regulation," PSE Working Papers hal-00818350, HAL.
  3. repec:hal:wpaper:hal-00818350 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Ines Österle, 2012. "Fossil Fuel Extraction and Climate Policy: A Review of the Green Paradox with Endogenous Resource Exploration," Working Papers 2012.13, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.

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