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Greenhouse Gas Reductions under Low Carbon Fuel Standards?

  • Stephen P. Holland
  • Jonathan E. Hughes
  • Christopher R. Knittel

A low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by limiting the carbon intensity of fuels. We show this decreases high carbon fuel production but increases low carbon fuel production, possibly increasing net carbon emissions. The LCFS cannot be efficient, and the best LCFS may be nonbinding. We simulate a national LCFS on gasoline and ethanol. For a broad parameter range, emissions decrease, energy prices increase, abatement costs are large ($80 - $760 billion annually), and average abatement costs are large ($307 - $2,272 per CO2 metric ton). A cost effective policy has much lower average abatement costs ($60 - $868). (JEL Q54, Q58)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

Volume (Year): 1 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 106-46

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:1:y:2009:i:1:p:106-46
Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.1.1.106
Contact details of provider: Web page: https://www.aeaweb.org/aej-policy
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  1. Pizer, William, 2005. "The Case for Intensity Targets," Discussion Papers dp-05-02, Resources For the Future.
  2. Farrell, Alexander E. & Sperling, Dan, 2007. "A Low-Carbon Fuel Standard for California, Part 1: Technical Analysis," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt6j67z9w6, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
  3. Paul R. Portney & Ian W.H. Parry & Howard K. Gruenspecht & Winston Harrington, 2003. "Policy Watch: The Economics of Fuel Economy Standards," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 203-217, Fall.
  4. Christopher Knittel & Daniel Sperling, 2006. "Evidence of a Shift in the Short-Run Price Elasticity of Gasoline Demand," Working Papers 625, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  5. Aaron S. Edlin & Pinar Karaca-Mandic, 2004. "The Accident Externality from Driving," Public Economics 0401003, EconWPA.
  6. Dahl, Carol & Duggan, Thomas E., 1996. "U.S. energy product supply elasticities: A survey and application to the U.S. oil market," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 243-263, October.
  7. Farrell, Alexander E. & Sperling, Daniel & Arons, S.M. & Brandt, A.R. & Delucchi, M.A. & Eggert, A. & Farrell, A.E. & Haya, B.K. & Hughes, J. & Jenkins, B.M. & Jones, A.D. & Kammen, D.M. & Kaffka, S.R, 2007. "A Low-Carbon Fuel Standard for California Part 1: Technical Analysis," Institute of Transportation Studies, Research Reports, Working Papers, Proceedings qt8zm8d3wj, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Berkeley.
  8. Helfand, Gloria E, 1991. "Standards versus Standards: The Effects of Different Pollution Restrictions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 622-34, June.
  9. Buchanan, James M, 1969. "External Diseconomies, Corrective Taxes, and Market Structure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(1), pages 174-77, March.
  10. Farrell, Alexander & Sperling, Daniel, 2007. "A Low-Carbon Fuel Standard for California, Part 1: Technical Analysis," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt5245b5kx, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
  11. Espey, Molly, 1998. "Gasoline demand revisited: an international meta-analysis of elasticities," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 273-295, June.
  12. J. Daniel Khazzoom, 1980. "Economic Implications of Mandated Efficiency in Standards for Household Appliances," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 21-40.
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