Is There Really a Green Paradox?
AbstractThe Green Paradox states that, in the absence of a tax on CO2 emissions, subsidizing a renewable backstop such as solar or wind energy brings forward the date at which fossil fuels become exhausted and consequently global warming is aggravated. We shed light on this issue by solving a model of depletion of non-renewable fossil fuels followed by a switch to a renewable backstop, paying attention to timing of the switch and the amount of fossil fuels remaining unexploited. We show that the Green Paradox occurs for relatively expensive but clean backstops (such as solar or wind), but does not occur if the backstop is sufficiently cheap relative to marginal global warming damages (e.g., nuclear energy) as then it is attractive to leave fossil fuels unexploited and thus limit CO2 emissions. We show that, without a CO2 tax, subsidizing the backstop might enhance welfare. If the backstop is relatively dirty and cheap (e.g., coal), there might be a period with simultaneous use of the non-renewable and renewable fuels.If the backstop is very dirty compared to oil or gas (e.g., tar sands), there is no simultaneous use. The optimum policy requires an initially rising CO2 tax followed by a gradually declining CO2 tax once the dirty backstop has been introduced. We also discuss the potential for limit pricing when the non-renewable resource is owned by a monopolist.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford in its series OxCarre Working Papers with number 035.
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Green Paradox; Hotelling rule; non-renewable resource; renewable backstop; global warming; carbon tax; limit pricing;
Other versions of this item:
- Frederick van der Ploeg & Cees Withagen, 2010. "Is there really a Green Paradox?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 10-020/3, Tinbergen Institute, revised 27 Aug 2012.
- Frederick Van der Ploeg & Cees A. Withagen, 2010. "Is There Really a Green Paradox?," CESifo Working Paper Series 2963, CESifo Group Munich.
- Q30 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - General
- Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources
- Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2010-11-06 (All new papers)
- NEP-ENE-2010-11-06 (Energy Economics)
- NEP-ENV-2010-11-06 (Environmental Economics)
- NEP-REG-2010-11-06 (Regulation)
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