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

Listed author(s):
  • 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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References listed on IDEAS
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  1. Don Fullerton & Gilbert Metcalf, 1997. "Environmental Controls, Scarcity Rents, and Pre-Existing Distortions," NBER Working Papers 6091, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  3. Parry, Ian & Goulder, Lawrence & Williams III, Roberton, 1997. "When Can Carbon Abatement Policies Increase Welfare? The Fundamental Role of Distorted Factor Markets," Discussion Papers dp-97-18-rev, Resources For the Future.
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  9. Summers, Lawrence H., 1991. "The Case for Corrective Taxation," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 44(3), pages 289-292, September.
  10. Govinda Timilsina & Ram Shrestha, 2002. "General equilibrium analysis of economic and environmental effects of carbon tax in a developing country: case of Thailand," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 5(3), pages 179-211, September.
  11. Xie, Jian & Saltzman, Sidney, 2000. "Environmental Policy Analysis: An Environmental Computable General-Equilibrium Approach for Developing Countries," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 453-489, July.
  12. Neary, J Peter, 1978. "Dynamic Stability and the Theory of Factor-Market Distortions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(4), pages 671-682, September.
  13. Devarajan, Shantayanan & Go, Delfin S. & Robinson, Sherman & Thierfelder, Karen, 2009. "Tax policy to reduce carbon emissions in south Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4933, The World Bank.
  14. Jones, Ronald W, 1971. "Distortions in Factor Markets and the General Equilibrium Model of Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 79(3), pages 437-459, May-June.
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