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What do we know about carbon taxes? An inquiry into their impacts on competitiveness and distribution of income

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  • Zhang, ZhongXiang
  • Baranzini, Andrea

Abstract

The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has set legally binding emissions targets for a basket of six greenhouse gases and timetables for industrialised countries. It has also incorporated three international flexibility mechanisms. However, the Articles defining the flexibility mechanisms carry wording that their use must be supplemental to domestic actions. This has led to the open debates on interpretations of these supplementarity provisions. Such debates ended at the resumed sixth Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC, held in Bonn, July 2001, and at the subsequent COP-7 in Marrakesh, November 2001. The final wording in the Bonn Agreement, reaffirmed in the Marrakesh Accords, at least indicates that domestic policies will have an important role to play in meeting Annex B countries’ emissions commitments. Carbon taxes have long been advocated because of their cost-effectiveness in achieving a given emissions reduction. In this paper, the main economic impacts of carbon taxes are assessed. Based on a review of empirical studies on existing carbon/energy taxes, it is concluded that competitive losses and distributive impacts are generally not significant and definitely less than often perceived. However, given the ultimate objective of the Framework Convention, future carbon taxes could have higher rates than those already imposed and thus the resulting economic impacts could be more acute. In this context, it has been shown that how to use the generated fiscal revenues will be of fundamental importance in determining the final economic impacts of carbon taxes. Finally, we briefly discuss carbon taxes in combination with other domestic and international instruments.
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  • Zhang, ZhongXiang & Baranzini, Andrea, 2004. "What do we know about carbon taxes? An inquiry into their impacts on competitiveness and distribution of income," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 507-518, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:32:y:2004:i:4:p:507-518
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    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • Q52 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Pollution Control Adoption and Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment Effects
    • F18 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Environment
    • R13 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General Equilibrium and Welfare Economic Analysis of Regional Economies
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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