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Tax Policy to Reduce Carbon Emissions in a Distorted Economy: Illustrations from a South Africa CGE Model

  • Devarajan Shantayanan


    (World Bank)

  • Go Delfin S


    (World Bank)

  • Robinson Sherman


    (Institute of Development Studies and International Food Policy Research Institute)

  • Thierfelder Karen


    (United States Naval Academy)

Noting that developing countries may not have the administrative capacity to levy a “pure” carbon tax, we compare the impact of alternative energy taxes with that of a carbon tax in an economy with multiple distortions. We use a disaggregated computable general equilibrium (CGE) model of the South African economy and simulate a range of tax policies that reduce CO2 emissions by 15 percent. Consistent with a “first-best” economy, a carbon tax will have the lowest marginal cost of abatement. But the relationship between a tax on energy commodities and one on pollution-intensive commodities depends critically on other distortions in the system and on structural rigidities in the economy. We demonstrate that if South Africa were able to remove distortions in the labor market, the cost of carbon taxation would be negligible. We conclude that the welfare costs of taxing carbon emissions in developing countries depend more on other distortions than on the country’s own carbon emissions.

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Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy.

Volume (Year): 11 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 1-24

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:11:y:2011:i:1:n:13
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