Unilateral climate policy design: Efficiency and equity implications of alternative instruments to reduce carbon leakage
Global cost-effectiveness of unilateral emission abatement can be seriously hampered by carbon leakage. We assess three widely discussed proposals for leakage reduction: carbon-motivated border tax adjustments, industry exemptions from carbon regulation, and output-based allocation of emission allowances. We find that none of these measures amounts to a “magic bullet” when both efficiency and equity criteria matter. Compared to unilateral emission pricing alone, border carbon adjustments are most effective in leakage reduction and promotion of global cost-effectiveness but can markedly exacerbate regional inequality; exemptions and output-based allocation tend to avoid distributional pitfalls but are less effective in leakage reduction and global cost savings; exemptions may even decrease global cost-effectiveness of unilateral emission abatement.
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