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The Effect of Allowance Allocations on Cap-and-Trade System Performance

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  • Hahn, Robert W.

    (Sustainable Consumption Institute, University of Manchester and Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy, Georgetown)

  • Stavins, Robert N.

    (Harvard University and Resources for the Future)

Abstract

We examine an implication of the "Coase Theorem" which has had an important impact both on environmental economics and on public policy in the environmental domain. Under certain conditions, the market equilibrium in a cap-and-trade system will be cost-effective and independent of the initial allocation of tradable rights. That is, the overall cost of achieving a given aggregate emission reduction will be minimized, and the final allocation of permits will be independent of the initial allocation. We call this the independence property. This property is very important because it allows equity and efficiency concerns to be separated in a relatively straightforward manner. In particular, the property means that the government can establish the overall pollution-reduction goal for a cap-and-trade system by setting the cap, and leave it up to the legislature--such as the U.S. Congress--to construct a constituency in support of the program by allocating the allowances to various interests without affecting either the environmental performance of the system or its aggregate social costs. Our primary objective in this paper is to examine the conditions under which the independence property is likely to hold--both in theory and in practice. A number of factors can call the independence property into question theoretically, including market power, transaction costs, non-cost-minimizing behavior, and conditional allowance allocations. We find that, in practice, there is support for the independence property in some, but not all cap-and-trade applications.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number rwp10-010.

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Date of creation: Mar 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp10-010

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  1. > Environmental and Natural Resource Economics > Climate economics > Policy instruments
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Cited by:
  1. Gabriel Chan & Robert Stavins & Robert Stowe & Richard Sweeney, 2012. "The SO2 Allowance Trading System and the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990: Reflections on Twenty Years of Policy Innovation," Working Papers 2012.06, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  2. Nicole A. MATHYS & Jaime de MELO, 2011. "The Political Economy of Climate Change Policies: Political Economy Aspects of Climate Change Mitigation Efforts," Working Papers P24, FERDI.
  3. Sebastian Goers & Alexander Wagner & Jürgen Wegmayr, 2010. "New and old market-based instruments for climate change policy," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 12(1), pages 1-30, June.
  4. Christos Constantatos & Lefteris Filippiadis & Eftichios S. Sartzetakis, 2011. "Using the allocation of emission permits for Strategic Trade purposes," Discussion Paper Series 2011_09, Department of Economics, University of Macedonia, revised Jun 2011.
  5. Stavins, Robert Norman & Schmalensee, Richard, 2012. "The SO2 Allowance Trading System: The Ironic History of a Grand Policy Experiment," Scholarly Articles 9368024, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  6. Miola, A. & Marra, M. & Ciuffo, B., 2011. "Designing a climate change policy for the international maritime transport sector: Market-based measures and technological options for global and regional policy actions," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(9), pages 5490-5498, September.
  7. Wang, Qiang & Chen, Xi, 2013. "Rethinking and reshaping the climate policy: Literature review and proposed guidelines," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 469-477.
  8. Konishi, Yoshifumi & Tarui, Nori, 2014. "Emissions Trading, Firm Heterogeneity, and Intra-Industry Reallocations in the Long Run," CEI Working Paper Series 2014-1, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  9. Yoshifumi Konishi & Nori Tarui, 2013. "Intra-Industry Reallocations and Long-run Impacts of Environmental Regulations," Working Papers 201307, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
  10. Pahle, Michael & Fan, Lin & Schill, Wolf-Peter, 2011. "How emission certificate allocations distort fossil investments: The German example," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 1975-1987, April.

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