Policy interactions, risk and price formation in carbon markets
Carbon pricing is an important mechanism for providing companies with incentives to invest in carbon abatement. Price formation in carbon markets involves a complex interplay between policy targets, dynamic technology costs, and market rules. Carbon pricing may under-deliver investment due to R&D externalities, requiring additional policies which themselves affect market prices. Also, abatement costs depend on the extent of technology deployment due to learning-by-doing. This paper introduces an analytical framework based on marginal abatement cost (MAC) curves with the aim of providing an intuitive understanding of the key dynamics and risk factors in carbon markets. The framework extends the usual static MAC representation of the market to incorporate policy interactions and some technology cost dynamics. The analysis indicates that supporting large-scale deployment of mature abatement technologies suppresses the marginal cost of abatement, sometimes to zero, whilst increasing total abatement costs. However, support for early stage R&D may reduce both total abatement cost and carbon price risk. An important aspect of the analysis is in elevating risk management considerations into energy policy formation, as the results of the stochastic modelling indicate wide distributions for the emergence of carbon prices and public costs around the policy expectations.
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