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Upstream vs. downstream CO2 trading: A comparison for the electricity context

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  • Hobbs, Benjamin F.
  • Bushnell, James
  • Wolak, Frank A.

Abstract

In electricity, "downstream" CO2 regulation requires retail suppliers to buy energy from a mix of sources so that their weighted emissions satisfy a standard. It has been argued that such "load-based" regulation would solve emissions leakage, cost consumers less, and provide more incentive for energy efficiency than traditional source-based cap-and-trade programs. Because pure load-based trading complicates spot power markets, variants (GEAC and CO2RC) that separate emissions attributes from energy have been proposed. When all generators and consumers come under such a system, these load-based programs are equivalent to source-based trading in which emissions allowances are allocated by various rules, and have no necessary cost advantage. The GEAC and CO2RC systems are equivalent to giving allowances free to generators, and requiring consumers either to subsidize generation or buy back excess allowances, respectively. As avoided energy costs under source-based and pure load-based trading are equal, the latter provides no additional incentive for energy efficiency. The speculative benefits of load-based systems are unjustified in light of their additional administrative complexity and cost, the threat that they pose to the competitiveness and efficiency of electricity spot markets, and the complications that would arise when transition to a federal cap-and-trade system occurs.

Suggested Citation

  • Hobbs, Benjamin F. & Bushnell, James & Wolak, Frank A., 2010. "Upstream vs. downstream CO2 trading: A comparison for the electricity context," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 3632-3643, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:38:y:2010:i:7:p:3632-3643
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Niemeier, D. & Gould, Gregory & Karner, Alex & Hixson, Mark & Bachmann, Brooke & Okma, Carrie & Lang, Ziv & Heres Del Valle, David, 2008. "Rethinking downstream regulation: California's opportunity to engage households in reducing greenhouse gases," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(9), pages 3436-3447, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fan, Jin & Li, Jun & Wu, Yanrui & Wang, Shanyong & Zhao, Dingtao, 2016. "The effects of allowance price on energy demand under a personal carbon trading scheme," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 170(C), pages 242-249.
    2. Erin T. Mansur, 2011. "Upstream versus Downstream Implementation of Climate Policy," NBER Chapters,in: The Design and Implementation of U.S. Climate Policy, pages 179-193 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Fan, Jin & Wang, Shanyong & Wu, Yanrui & Li, Jun & Zhao, Dingtao, 2015. "Buffer effect and price effect of a personal carbon trading scheme," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 601-610.
    4. Alberto M. Zanni & Abigail L. Bristow & Mark Wardman, 2013. "The potential behavioural effect of personal carbon trading: results from an experimental survey," Journal of Environmental Economics and Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 2(2), pages 222-243, July.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Emissions trading Greenhouse Gas regulation Electricity market models;

    JEL classification:

    • Q52 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Pollution Control Adoption and Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment Effects
    • 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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