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Robust Dynamic Optimal Taxation and Environmental Externalities

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  • Xin Li
  • Borghan Narajabad
  • Ted Temzelides

Abstract

We study a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model where agents are concerned about model uncertainty regarding climate change. An externality from greenhouse gas emissions adversely affects the economy’s capital stock. We assume that the mapping from climate change to damages is subject to uncertainty, and we adapt and use techniques from robust control theory in order to study efficiency and optimal policy. We obtain a sharp analytical solution for the implied environmental externality, and we characterize dynamic optimal taxation. A small increase in the concern about model uncertainty can cause a significant drop in optimal energy extraction. The optimal tax which restores the social optimal allocation is Pigouvian. Under more general assumptions, we develop a recursive method and solve the model computationally. We find that the introduction of uncertainty matters qualitatively and quantitatively. We study optimal output growth in the presence and in the absence of concerns about uncertainty and find that these can lead to substantially different conclusions.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 4562.

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Date of creation: 2014
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4562

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  1. Li-Lin Ku & Chien-Pai Han, 2008. "Robust testing procedures of process locations," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 42(5), pages 579-595, October.
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  7. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J., 2003. "Robust control of forward-looking models," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 581-604, April.
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  13. Nicholas Stern, 2013. "The Structure of Economic Modeling of the Potential Impacts of Climate Change: Grafting Gross Underestimation of Risk onto Already Narrow Science Models," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(3), pages 838-59, September.
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  16. Epstein, Larry G & Wang, Tan, 1994. "Intertemporal Asset Pricing Under Knightian Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 283-322, March.
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