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What Are the Costs of Meeting Distributional Objectives in Designing Domestic Climate Policy?

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  • Parry, Ian W.H.

    ()
    (Resources for the Future)

  • Williams, Roberton C. III

    ()
    (Resources for the Future)

Abstract

This paper develops an analytical model to quantify the costs and distributional effects of various fiscal options for allocating the (large) rents created under prospective cap-and-trade programs to reduce domestic, energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The trade-off between cost-effectiveness and distribution is striking. The welfare costs of different policies, accounting for linkages with the broader fiscal system, range from –$6 billion per year to $53 billion per year in 2020, or between –$12 to almost $100 per ton of CO2 reductions. The least costly policy involves auctioning all allowances with revenues used to cut proportional income taxes, while the most costly policies involve recycling revenues in lump-sum dividends or grandfathering emissions allowances. The least costly policy is regressive, however, while the dividend policy is progressive, and grandfathering permits is both costly and regressive. A distribution-neutral policy costs $18–$42 per ton of CO2 reductions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-10-51.

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Date of creation: 16 Nov 2010
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Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-10-51

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Keywords: cap-and-trade; welfare cost; distributional incidence; revenue recycling;

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References

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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. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Parry, Ian W. H. & Williams III, Roberton C. & Burtraw, Dallas, 1999. "The cost-effectiveness of alternative instruments for environmental protection in a second-best setting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 329-360, June.
  3. Emmanuel Saez & Joel B. Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2009. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," NBER Working Papers 15012, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Burtraw, Dallas & Sweeney, Richard & Walls, Margaret, 2009. "The Incidence of U.S. Climate Policy: Alternative Uses of Revenues from a Cap-and-Trade Auction," Discussion Papers dp-09-17-rev, Resources For the Future.
  5. Parry, Ian W. H., 2004. "Are emissions permits regressive?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 364-387, March.
  6. Parry, Ian W. H. & Bento, Antonio M., 2000. "Tax Deductions, Environmental Policy, and the "Double Dividend" Hypothesis," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 67-96, January.
  7. Kevin A. Hasset & Aparna Mathur & Gilbert Metcalf, 2007. "The Incidence of a U.S. Carbon Tax: A Lifetime and Regional Analysis," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0714, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  8. Fullerton, Don & Metcalf, Gilbert E., 2001. "Environmental controls, scarcity rents, and pre-existing distortions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 249-267, May.
  9. Louis Kaplow, 2004. "On the (Ir)Relevance of Distribution and Labor Supply Distortion to Government Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(4), pages 159-175, Fall.
  10. Sijm, J. & Neuhoff, K. & Chen, Y., 2006. "CO2 cost pass through and windfall profits in the power sector," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0639, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  11. Blundell, Richard & Macurdy, Thomas, 1999. "Labor supply: A review of alternative approaches," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 27, pages 1559-1695 Elsevier.
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Cited by:
  1. Goulder, Lawrence H., 2013. "Climate change policy's interactions with the tax system," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(S1), pages S3-S11.
  2. Matthias Kalkuhl & Ottmar Edenhofer & Kai Lessmann, 2011. "Renewable Energy Subsidies: Second-Best Policy or Fatal Aberration for Mitigation?," Working Papers 2011.48, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.

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