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Moving U.S. Climate Policy Forward: Are Carbon Taxes the Only Good Alternative?

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  • Parry, Ian W.H.

    ()
    (Resources for the Future)

  • Williams, Roberton C.

    ()
    (Resources for the Future)

Abstract

This paper estimates the welfare costs of the main medium-term options for significantly reducing U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, including carbon taxes and cap-and-trade systems applied economy-wide and to the power sector only, and an emissions rate standard for power generation. The key theme is that welfare costs depend importantly on how policies interact with distortions in the economy created by the broader fiscal system. If allowance rent is not used to increase economic efficiency, economy-wide cap-and-trade systems perform the worst on cost-effectiveness grounds. In contrast, if revenues are used to substitute for distortionary income taxes (either directly, or indirectly through deficit reduction), economy-wide carbon taxes (or auctioned allowance systems) may have (slightly) negative costs. The bottom line is that revenues or rents created under economy-wide, market-based carbon policies must be used to increase economic efficiency to ensure that these instruments are more cost-effective than regulatory or sectoral approaches.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-11-02.

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Date of creation: 22 Feb 2011
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Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-11-02

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Related research

Keywords: carbon tax; cap-and-trade; cost-effectiveness; distortionary taxes; revenue recycling;

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References

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  1. Williams, Roberton III, 2002. "Environmental Tax Interactions when Pollution Affects Health or Productivity," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 261-270, September.
  2. Goulder Lawrence H., 1995. "Effects of Carbon Taxes in an Economy with Prior Tax Distortions: An Intertemporal General Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 271-297, November.
  3. Parry, Ian W H & Pizer, William A & Fischer, Carolyn, 2003. "How Large Are the Welfare Gains from Technological Innovation Induced by Environmental Policies?," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 237-55, May.
  4. Parry Ian W. H., 1995. "Pollution Taxes and Revenue Recycling," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages S64-S77, November.
  5. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz & Ladoux, Norbert, 2001. "Environmental Taxes with Heterogeneous Consumers: An Application to Energy Consumption in France," IDEI Working Papers 127, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised 2002.
  6. 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.
  7. Sergey Paltsev & John M. Reilly & Henry D. Jacoby & Angelo C. Gurgel & Gilbert E. Metcalf & Andrei P. Sokolov & Jennifer F. Holak, 2007. "Assessment of U.S. Cap-and-Trade Proposals," NBER Working Papers 13176, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Lawrence H. Goulder & Ian W. H. Parry & Roberton C. Williams III & Dallas Burtraw, 1998. "The Cost-Effectiveness of Alternative Instruments for Environmental Protection in a Second-Best Setting," NBER Working Papers 6464, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. Parry Ian W. H. & Williams Roberton C., 2010. "What are the Costs of Meeting Distributional Objectives for Climate Policy?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(2), pages 1-35, December.
  11. Harrison Fell & Ian A. MacKenzie & William A. Pizer, 2012. "Prices versus Quantities versus Bankable Quantities," NBER Working Papers 17878, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Parry, Ian & Bento, Antonio, 1999. "Tax deductions, environmental policy, and the"double dividend"hypothesis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2119, The World Bank.
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Cited by:
  1. Mathur, Aparna & Morris, Adele C., 2014. "Distributional effects of a carbon tax in broader U.S. fiscal reform," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 326-334.
  2. Parry, Ian W.H., 2012. "Reforming the tax system to promote environmental objectives: An application to Mauritius," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 103-112.
  3. Epanchin-Niell, Rebecca S. & Wilen, James E., 2010. "Optimal control of spatial-dynamic processes: The case of biological invasions," 2010 Annual Meeting, July 25-27, 2010, Denver, Colorado 61375, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  4. Brennan, Timothy J. & Macauley, Molly & Whitefoot, Kate, 2011. "Prizes, Patents, and Technology Procurement: A Proposed Analytical Framework," Discussion Papers dp-11-21-rev, Resources For the Future.
  5. Paul, Anthony & Palmer, Karen & Woerman, Matt, 2011. "Modeling a Clean Energy Standard for Electricity: Policy Design Implications for Emissions, Supply, Prices, and Regions," Discussion Papers dp-11-35, Resources For the Future.
  6. Lemoine, Derek, 2013. "Escape from Third-Best: Rating Emissions for Intensity Standards," 2014 Allied Social Science Association (ASSA) Annual Meeting, January 3-5, 2014, Philadelphia, PA 161656, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  7. Ian W.H. Parry, 2011. "Reforming the Tax System to Promote Environmental Objectives," IMF Working Papers 11/124, International Monetary Fund.

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