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Unilateral climate policy design: Efficiency and equity implications of alternative instruments to reduce carbon leakage

  • Böhringer, Christoph
  • Carbone, Jared C.
  • Rutherford, Thomas F.

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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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Economics.

Volume (Year): 34 (2012)
Issue (Month): S2 ()
Pages: S208-S217

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Handle: RePEc:eee:eneeco:v:34:y:2012:i:s2:p:s208-s217
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  1. Fischer, Carolyn & Fox, Alan K., 2009. "Comparing Policies to Combat Emissions Leakage: Border Tax Adjustments versus Rebates," Discussion Papers dp-09-02, Resources For the Future.
  2. Christoph Böhringer & Thomas F. Rutherford, 2010. "The Costs of Compliance: A CGE Assessment of Canada's Policy Options under the Kyoto Protocol," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(2), pages 177-211, 02.
  3. Böhringer, Christoph & Lange, Andreas & Rutherford, Thomas F., 2014. "Optimal emission pricing in the presence of international spillovers: Decomposing leakage and terms-of-trade motives," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 101-111.
  4. Christoph Bohringer & Jared Carbone & Thomas F. Rutherford, 2013. "Embodied Carbon Tariffs," Working Papers 2013-24, Department of Economics, University of Calgary, revised 11 Oct 2013.
  5. Hoel, Michael, 1996. "Should a carbon tax be differentiated across sectors?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 17-32, January.
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  7. Aaditya Mattoo & Arvind Subramanian & Dominique van der Mensbrugghe & Jianwu He, 2009. "Reconciling Climate Change and Trade Policy," Working Papers 189, Center for Global Development.
  8. Dissou, Yazid & Eyland, Terry, 2011. "Carbon control policies, competitiveness, and border tax adjustments," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 556-564, May.
  9. Hoel, M., 1989. "Global Environmental Problems: The Effects Of Unilateral Actions Taken By One Country," Memorandum 11/1989, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  10. Fischer, Carolyn, 2001. "Rebating Environmental Policy Revenues: Output-Based Allocations and Tradable Performance Standards," Discussion Papers dp-01-22, Resources For the Future.
  11. Böhringer, Christoph & Fischer, Carolyn & Rosendahl, Knut Einar, 2014. "Cost-effective unilateral climate policy design: Size matters," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 318-339.
  12. Markusen, James R., 1975. "International externalities and optimal tax structures," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 15-29, February.
  13. Mustafa H. Babiker & Thomas F. Rutherford, 2005. "The Economic Effects of Border Measures in Subglobal Climate Agreements," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 99-126.
  14. Christoph Böhringer & Carolyn Fischer & Knut Einar Rosendahl, 2010. "The Global Effects of Subglobal Climate Policies," Discussion Papers 634, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
  15. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
  16. Warwick J. McKibbin & Peter J. Wilcoxen, 2009. "The Economic And Environmental Effects Of Border Tax Adjustments For Climate Policy," CAMA Working Papers 2009-09, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  17. Christoph Böhringer & Thomas Rutherford, 2002. "Carbon Abatement and International Spillovers," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 22(3), pages 391-417, July.
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