Incentives and prices in an emissions trading scheme with updating
Emissions trading schemes where allocations are based on updated baseline emissions give firms less incentive to reduce emissions for a given quota (or allowance) price. Nevertheless, according to Böhringer and Lange [On the design of optimal grandfathering schemes for emission allowances, Europ. Econ. Rev. 49 (2005) 2041-2055], such allocation schemes are cost-effective if the system is closed and allocation rules are identical across firms. In this paper, we show that the cost-effective solution may be infeasible if marginal abatement costs grow too fast. Moreover, if a price cap or banking/borrowing is introduced, the abatement profile is no longer the same as in the case with an auction (or lump-sum allocation). In addition, we show that with allocation based on updated emissions, the quota price will always exceed marginal abatement costs, possibly misguiding policy makers and investors about abatement costs. Numerical simulations indicate that the quota price most likely will be several times higher than marginal abatement costs, unless a significant share of allowances is auctioned.
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