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Robustness of a simple rule for the social cost of carbon

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  • Rezai, Armon
  • van der Ploeg, Frederick

Abstract

The optimal social cost of carbon is in general equilibrium proportional to GDP if utility is logarithmic, production is Cobb–Douglas, depreciation is 100% every period, climate damages as fraction of production decline exponentially with the stock of atmospheric carbon, and fossil fuel extraction does not require capital. The time profile and size of the optimal carbon tax corresponding to this simple rule are not robust to more convex climate damages, smaller elasticities of factor substitution and non-unitary coefficients of relative intergenerational inequality aversion. The optimal timing of energy transitions and the amount of fossil fuel reserves to be locked up in the earth are also not accurately predicted by this framework. Still, in terms of welfare and global warming the simple rule for the optimal social cost of carbon manages to get quite close to the first best.

Suggested Citation

  • Rezai, Armon & van der Ploeg, Frederick, 2015. "Robustness of a simple rule for the social cost of carbon," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 48-55.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:132:y:2015:i:c:p:48-55
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2015.04.007
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ackerman, Frank & Stanton, Elizabeth A., 2012. "Climate risks and carbon prices: Revising the social cost of carbon," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 6, pages 1-25.
    2. John Hassler & Per Krusell, 2012. "Economics And Climate Change: Integrated Assessment In A Multi-Region World," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(5), pages 974-1000, October.
    3. Reyer Gerlagh, 2012. "Carbon Prices for the Next Thousand Years," Review of Environment, Energy and Economics - Re3, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, August.
    4. John Hassler & Per Krusell & Conny Olovsson, 2012. "Energy-Saving Technical Change," NBER Working Papers 18456, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Armon Rezai, 2011. "The Opportunity Cost of Climate Policy: A Question of Reference," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 113(4), pages 885-903, December.
    6. Brock, William A. & Mirman, Leonard J., 1972. "Optimal economic growth and uncertainty: The discounted case," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 479-513, June.
    7. Mikhail Golosov & John Hassler & Per Krusell & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2014. "Optimal Taxes on Fossil Fuel in General Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82(1), pages 41-88, January.
    8. Iverson, Terrence, 2012. "Optimal Carbon Taxes with Non-Constant Time Preference," MPRA Paper 43264, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Richard S. J. Tol, 2015. "Economic impacts of climate change," Working Paper Series 7515, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
    2. Gerlagh, Reyer & Jaimes, Richard & Motavasseli, Ali, 2017. "Global demographic change and climate policies," Discussion Paper 2017-035, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    3. Armon Rezai & Frederick Van der Ploeg, 2016. "Intergenerational Inequality Aversion, Growth, and the Role of Damages: Occam's Rule for the Global Carbon Tax," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(2), pages 493-522.
    4. Terrence Iverson & Scott Denning & Sammy Zahran, 2015. "When the long run matters," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 129(1), pages 57-72, March.
    5. Gustav Engström & Johan Gars, 2016. "Climatic Tipping Points and Optimal Fossil-Fuel Use," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 65(3), pages 541-571, November.
    6. repec:eee:macchp:v2-1893 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Rick Van der Ploeg & Armon Rezai, 2015. "Intergenerational Inequality Aversion, Growth and the Role of Damages: Occam's rule for the global tax," Economics Series Working Papers OxCarre Research Paper 15, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social cost of carbon; Ramsey growth; Climate damages; Energy transitions; Stranded fossil fuel assets; Robustness;

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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