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Instrument Choice is Instrument Design

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  • Weisbach, David
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    Abstract

    This paper analyzes the choice between taxes and cap and trade systems (also referred to here as a permit system or a quantity restriction) as methods of controlling greenhouse gas emissions. It argues that in the domestic context, with proper design, the two instruments are essentially the same. Commonly discussed differences in the two instruments are due to unjustified assumptions about design. In the climate change context and within a single country there is sufficient design flexibility that these differences can be substantially eliminated. To the extent that there are remaining differences, there should be a modest preference for taxes, but the benefits of taxes are swamped by the benefits of good design; even though the very best tax might be better than the very best quantity restriction, the first order of business is getting the design right.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Regulation2point0 in its series Working paper with number 4.

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    Date of creation: Nov 2009
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    Handle: RePEc:reg:wpaper:4

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    1. 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.
    2. Louis Kaplow & Steven Shavell, 1999. "Economic Analysis of Law," NBER Working Papers 6960, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. 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.
    4. Brian C. Murray & Richard G. Newell & William A. Pizer, 2009. "Balancing Cost and Emissions Certainty: An Allowance Reserve for Cap-and-Trade," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 3(1), pages 84-103, Winter.
    5. Louis Kaplow, 2006. "Capital Levies and Transition to a Consumption Tax," NBER Working Papers 12259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Karp, Larry & Zhang, Jiangfeng, 2006. "Regulation with anticipated learning about environmental damages," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 259-279, May.
    7. Louis Kaplow & Steven Shavell, 1997. "On the Superiority of Corrective Taxes to Quantity Regulation," NBER Working Papers 6251, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Fishelson, Gideon, 1976. "Emission control policies under uncertainty," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 189-197, October.
    9. Pizer, William & Newell, Richard, 1998. "Regulating Stock Externalities Under Uncertainty," Discussion Papers dp-99-10-rev, Resources For the Future.
    10. Richard Newell & William Pizer & Jiangfeng Zhang, 2005. "Managing Permit Markets to Stabilize Prices," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 31(2), pages 133-157, 06.
    11. Pizer, William, 2003. "Climate Change Catastrophes," Discussion Papers dp-03-31, Resources For the Future.
    12. Joseph E. Aldy & Alan J. Krupnick & Richard G. Newell & Ian W.H. Parry & William A. Pizer, 2009. "Designing Climate Mitigation Policy," NBER Working Papers 15022, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Jon Hovi & Bjart Holtsmark, 2005. "Cap-and-Trade or Carbon Taxes? The Feasibility of Enforcement and the Effects of Non-Compliance," Discussion Papers 436, Research Department of Statistics Norway.
    14. Helfand, Gloria E. & Berck, Peter & Maull, Tim, 2003. "The theory of pollution policy," Handbook of Environmental Economics, in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 249-303 Elsevier.
    15. Hoel, Michael & Karp, Larry, 2001. "Taxes versus Quotas for a Stock Pollutant," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt5fx9p7kf, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
    16. Adar, Zvi & Griffin, James M., 1976. "Uncertainty and the choice of pollution control instruments," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 178-188, October.
    17. Toman, Michael & Kolstad, Charles, 2000. "The Economics of Climate Policy," Discussion Papers dp-00-40, Resources For the Future.
    18. Baldursson, Fridrik M & von der Fehr, N.-H.M.Nils-Henrik M, 2004. "Price volatility and risk exposure: on market-based environmental policy instruments," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 682-704, July.
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    Cited by:
    1. Lawrence H. Goulder & Andrew Schein, 2013. "Carbon Taxes vs. Cap and Trade: A Critical Review," NBER Working Papers 19338, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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