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Carbon Taxes vs. Cap and Trade: A Critical Review

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  • Lawrence H. Goulder
  • Andrew Schein
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    Abstract

    We examine the relative attractions of a carbon tax, a “pure” cap-and-trade system, and a “hybrid” option (a cap-and-trade system with a price ceiling and/or price floor). We show that the various options are equivalent along more dimensions than often are recognized. In addition, we bring out important dimensions along which the approaches have very different impacts. Several of these dimensions have received little attention in prior literature. A key finding is that exogenous emissions pricing (whether through a carbon tax or through the hybrid option) has a number of attractions over pure cap and trade. Beyond helping prevent price volatility and reducing expected policy errors in the face of uncertainties, exogenous pricing helps avoid problematic interactions with other climate policies and helps avoid large wealth transfers to oil exporting countries.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19338.

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    Date of creation: Aug 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19338

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    1. Peter John Wood & Frank Jotzo, 2009. "Price Floors for Emissions Trading," Working Papers 2009.118, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    2. Dinan, Terry & Rogers, Diane Lim, 2002. "Distributional Effects of Carbon AllowanceTrading: How Government Decisions Determine Winners and Losers," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 55(N. 2), pages 199-221, June.
    3. Fischer, Carolyn & Preonas, Louis, 2010. "Combining Policies for Renewable Energy: Is the Whole Less Than the Sum of Its Parts?," International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, now publishers, vol. 4(1), pages 51-92, June.
    4. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Hafstead, Marc A.C. & Dworsky, Michael, 2010. "Impacts of alternative emissions allowance allocation methods under a federal cap-and-trade program," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 161-181, November.
    5. Stocking, Andrew, 2012. "Unintended consequences of price controls: An application to allowance markets," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 120-136.
    6. Hoel, Michael & Karp, Larry, 2002. "Taxes versus quotas for a stock pollutant," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 367-384, November.
    7. Weitzman, Martin L, 1974. "Prices vs. Quantities," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(4), pages 477-91, October.
    8. Wirl, Franz, 2012. "Global warming: Prices versus quantities from a strategic point of view," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 217-229.
    9. Strand, Jon, 2013. "Strategic climate policy with offsets and incomplete abatement: Carbon taxes versus cap-and-trade," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 202-218.
    10. A. Lans Bovenberg & Lawrence H. Goulder & Derek J. Gurney, 2005. "Efficiency Costs of Meeting Industry-Distributional Constraints Under Environmental Permits and Taxes," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(4), pages 950-970, Winter.
    11. Lawrence Goulder, 1995. "Environmental taxation and the double dividend: A reader's guide," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 157-183, August.
    12. Newell, Richard G. & Pizer, William A., 2003. "Regulating stock externalities under uncertainty," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 45(2, Supple), pages 416-432, March.
    13. Parry, Ian W. H., 2004. "Are emissions permits regressive?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 364-387, March.
    14. Nathaniel O. Keohane, 2009. "Cap and Trade, Rehabilitated: Using Tradable Permits to Control U.S. Greenhouse Gases," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 3(1), pages 42-62, Winter.
    15. Larry Karp & Jiangfeng Zhang, 2005. "Regulation of Stock Externalities with Correlated Abatement Costs," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 32(2), pages 273-300, October.
    16. Weisbach, David, 2009. "Instrument Choice is Instrument Design," Working paper 4, Regulation2point0.
    17. Carolyn Fischer & Alan K. Fox, 2007. "Output-Based Allocation of Emissions Permits for Mitigating Tax and Trade Interactions," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 83(4), pages 575-599.
    18. Pizer, William A., 2002. "Combining price and quantity controls to mitigate global climate change," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(3), pages 409-434, September.
    19. Jacoby, Henry D. & Ellerman, A. Denny, 2004. "The safety valve and climate policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 481-491, March.
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