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Does a Renewable Fuel Standard for Biofuels Reduce Climate Costs?

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  • Mads Greaker
  • Michael Hoel
  • Knut Einar Rosendahl

Abstract

Recent contributions have questioned whether biofuels policies actually lead to emissions reductions, and thus lower climate costs. In this paper we make two contributions to the literature. First, we study the market effects of a renewable fuel standard. Opposed to most previous studies we model the supply of fossil fuels taking into account that fossil fuels is a non-renewable resource. Second, we model emissions from land use change explicitly when we evaluate the climate effects of the renewable fuel standard. We find that extraction of fossil fuels most likely will decline initially as a consequence of the standard. Thus, if emissions from biofuels are sufficiently low, the standard will have beneficial climate effects. Furthermore, we find that the standard tends to reduce total fuel (i.e., oil plus biofuels) consumption initially. Hence, even if emissions from biofuels are substantial, climate costs may be reduced. Finally, if only a subset of countries introduce a renewable fuel standard, there will be carbon leakage to the rest of the world. However, climate costs may decline as global extraction of fossil fuels is postponed.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 4030.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4030

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Keywords: biofuel; renewable fuel standard; fossil fuel;

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  1. Lapan, Harvey & Moschini, GianCarlo, 2012. "Second-best biofuel policies and the welfare effects of quantity mandates and subsidies," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 224-241.
  2. Ujjayant Chakravorty & Bertrand Magne & Michel Moreaux, 2008. "A dynamic model of food and clean energy," Working Papers 26086, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France.
  3. Martin L. Weitzman, 2011. "Fat-Tailed Uncertainty in the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 5(2), pages 275-292, Summer.
  4. Hoel, Michael, 2011. "The supply side of CO2 with country heterogeneity," Memorandum 08/2011, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  5. Eggert, Håkan & Greaker, Mads & Potter, Emily, 2011. "Policies for Second Generation Biofuels: Current status and future challenges," Working Papers in Economics 501, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  6. Reyer Gerlagh, 2011. "Too Much Oil," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 57(1), pages 79-102, March.
  7. Hochman, Gal & Rajagopal, Deepak & Zilberman, David D., 2010. "The effect of biofuel on the international oil market," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt0k93s7zg, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  8. Michael Hoel, 2011. "The Supply Side of CO2 with Country Heterogeneity," CESifo Working Paper Series 3393, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. Martin L. Weitzman, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 703-724, September.
  10. Amundsen, Eirik S. & Mortensen, Jorgen Birk, 2001. "The Danish Green Certificate System: some simple analytical results," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 489-509, September.
  11. Snorre Kverndokk & Knut Einar Rosendahl, 2010. "The effects of transport regulation on the oil market. Does market power matter?," Discussion Papers 629, Research Department of Statistics Norway.
  12. Searchinger, Timothy & Heimlich, Ralph & Houghton, R. A. & Dong, Fengxia & Elobeid, Amani & Fabiosa, Jacinto F. & Tokgoz, Simla & Hayes, Dermot J. & Yu, Hun-Hsiang, 2008. "Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land-Use Change," Staff General Research Papers 12881, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
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