Emissions Trading with Shares and Coupons when Control over Discharges Is Uncertain
Two important decisions in designing markets for tradable emissions permits are whether to allow banking of permits (coupons) and whether to allow trading in entitlements to future permits (shares). Banking is predicted to reduce price instability when firms trade in a reconciliation market after the quantity of emissions has been determined. Tradable shares are a common feature in proposals for emissions trading in Canada. We conduct a laboratory experiment to investigate how bankable coupons and tradable shares affect efficiency and prices under uncertainty. Cognitive demands on the subjects are reduced by computerized advice on the optimal allocation of coupons across periods and the implied marginal values of coupons and shares. Banking, share trading and uncertainty conditions are introduced in a complete factorial design with three observations per cell. High efficiencies are observed across all treatments. Uncertainty in the control of emissions leads to substantial price instability when banking is not allowed. Banking virtually eliminates the instability, but reduces the efficiency of the market institution. Share trading reduces trading volumes, increases price stability and improves efficiency.
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