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Is there a Case for Carbon-Based Border Tax Adjustment?: An Applied General Equilibrium Analysis


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  • Jean-Marc Burniaux
  • Jean Chateau
  • Romain Duval


Concern that unilateral greenhouse gas emission reductions could foster carbon leakage and undermine the international competitiveness of domestic industry has led to growing calls for carbon-based border-tax adjustments (BTAs). This paper uses a global general equilibrium model to assess the economic effects of BTAs and comes to three main conclusions. First, BTAs can reduce carbon leakage if the coalition of countries taking action to reduce emissions is small, because in this case leakage (while typically small) mainly occurs through international trade competitiveness losses rather than through declines in world fossil fuel prices that trigger rising carbon intensities outside the region taking action. Second, the welfare impacts of BTAs are small, and typically slightly negative at the world level. Third, and perhaps more strikingly, BTAs do not necessarily curb the output losses incurred by the domestic energy intensive-industries (EIIs) they are intended to protect in the first place. This is in part because taken as a whole, EIIs in industrialised countries make important use of carbon-intensive intermediate inputs produced by EIIs in other geographical areas. Another, deeper explanation is that EIIs are ultimately more adversely affected by carbon pricing itself, and the associated contraction in market size, than by any international competitiveness losses. These findings are shown to be robust to key model parameters, country coverage and design features of BTAs. Y-a-t-il un argument en faveur d'une taxe carbone aux frontières ? : Une analyse d'équilibre général Les craintes que des réductions unilatérales d’émissions de gaz à effet de serre soient en partie compensées par des fuites de carbone tout en ayant un effet négatif sur la compétitivité des industries domestiques ont entraîné des appels croissants en faveur de taxes carbone aux frontières (TCFs). Cet article utilise un modèle d’équilibre général appliqué pour évaluer les effets économiques des TCFs et aboutit à trois conclusions. Premièrement, les TCFs peuvent réduire les fuites de carbone lorsque la coalition de pays prenant des mesures de réduction des émissions est réduite, car dans ce cas les fuites carbone (quoique typiquement faibles) se produisent essentiellement via des pertes de compétitivité internationale, plutôt que via des baisses du prix mondial des énergies fossiles qui entraînent une hausse de l’intensité en carbone dans le reste du monde. Deuxièmement, les impacts des TCFs sur le bien-être sont faibles, et typiquement légèrement négatifs au niveau mondial. Troisièmement, et peut-être de façon plus frappante, les TCFs n’atténuent pas nécessairement les pertes de production subies par les industries domestiques intensives en énergie (IIEs) qu’elles sont pourtant censées protéger. Cela tient en partie à ce que prises dans leur ensemble, les IIEs dans les pays industrialisés utilisent de façon importante des intrants intensifs en carbone produits par les IIEs d’autres zones géographiques. Une autre explication plus profonde est que les IIEs sont in fine davantage touchées par l’existence d’un prix du carbone lui-même, et par la contraction de la taille du marché qui s’en suit, que par de quelconques pertes de compétitivité internationale. Ces résultats s’avèrent robustes à des hypothèses alternatives concernant certains paramètres clé du modèle, les pays couverts et les modalités de mise en place des TCFs.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 794.

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Date of creation: 21 Jul 2010
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Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:794-en

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Keywords: migration; climate change; border tax adjustment; computable general equilibrium model; atténuation; changement climatique; taxe carbone aux frontières; modèle d'équilibre général calculable;

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Cited by:
  1. Böhringer, Christoph & Fischer, Carolyn & Einar Rosendahl, Knut, 2011. "Cost-Effective Unilateral Climate Policy Design: Size Matters," Discussion Papers, Resources For the Future dp-11-34, Resources For the Future.
  2. Bao, Qin & Tang, Ling & Zhang, ZhongXiang & Wang, Shouyang, 2013. "Impacts of border carbon adjustments on China's sectoral emissions: Simulations with a dynamic computable general equilibrium model," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 77-94.
  3. repec:euv:dpaper:9999 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Christian Lininger, 2013. "Consumption-Based Approaches in International Climate Policy: An Analytical Evaluation of the Implications for Cost-Effectiveness, Carbon Leakage, and the International Income Distribution," Graz Economics Papers 2013-03, University of Graz, Department of Economics.
  5. Michael Jakob & Robert Marschinski & Michael Hübler, 2013. "Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A Trade-Theory Analysis of Leakage Under Production- and Consumption-Based Policies," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 56(1), pages 47-72, September.
  6. Jared C. Carbone & Nicholas Rivers, 2014. "Climate policy and competitiveness: Policy guidance and quantitative evidence," Working Papers 2014-05, Colorado School of Mines, Division of Economics and Business.
  7. Daniel Becker & Magdalena Brezskot & Wolfgang Peters & Ulrike Will, 2013. "Grenzausgleichsinstrumente bei unilateralen Klimaschutzmaßnahmen. Eine ökonomische und WTO-rechtliche Analyse," Discussion Paper Series RECAP15 010, RECAP15, European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder).
  8. Karl Steininger & Christian Lininger & Susanne Droege & Dominic Roser & Luke Tomlinson, 2012. "Towards a Just and Cost-Effective Climate Policy: On the relevance and implications of deciding between a Production versus Consumption Based Approach," Graz Economics Papers 2012-06, University of Graz, Department of Economics.
  9. Irfanoglu, Zeynep Burcu & Golub, Alla A. & Hertel, Thomas W. & Henderson, Benjamin B., 2012. "Effects of carbon-based border tax adjustments on carbon leakage and competitiveness in livestock sectors," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association 125006, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.


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