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Scale and transfers in international emissions offset programs

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  • van Benthem, Arthur
  • Kerr, Suzi

Abstract

Voluntary emissions offset programs between developing and industrialized countries suffer from adverse selection, because participants will self-select into the program. In contrast, pure subsidies for mitigation lead to full participation and hence efficiency, but require large financial transfers which make them unattractive to industrialized countries. We present a simple model to demonstrate the impact of three policy options on the performance of offset programs: (1) baseline scale increases, (2) offset discounting and (3) setting stringent baselines. With baseline scale increases, entire political jurisdictions such as regions or nations are assigned a single, aggregate baseline and must choose whether to participate as one entity. We find that increasing scale both improves efficiency and reduces transfers from offset buyers to sellers. Offset discounting means paying less than the value of abatement and can be paired with trading ratios between offsets and allowances in a cap-and-trade system. We show that discounting is inefficient, but can make offsets more attractive to industrialized countries. Setting stringent baselines also involves a tradeoff between efficiency and transfers. We finally show that Pareto efficient policies that are individually rational for buyers and sellers entail some combination of discounting and/or stringent baselines: offset policies are never first-best, but can be efficiency improving, especially with increased scale.

Suggested Citation

  • van Benthem, Arthur & Kerr, Suzi, 2013. "Scale and transfers in international emissions offset programs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 31-46.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:107:y:2013:i:c:p:31-46
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2013.08.004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Antonio Bento & Ravi Kanbur & Benjamin Leard, 2016. "On the importance of baseline setting in carbon offsets markets," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 137(3), pages 625-637, August.
    2. Arthur A. van Benthem, 2015. "Energy Leapfrogging," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(1), pages 93-132.
    3. Paul J. Burke, 2016. "Undermined by Adverse Selection: Australia's Direct Action Abatement Subsidies," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 35(3), pages 216-229, September.
    4. Knut Rosendahl & Jon Strand, 2015. "Emissions Trading with Offset Markets and Free Quota Allocations," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 61(2), pages 243-271, June.
    5. Bento, Antonio & Ho, Benjamin & Ramirez-Basora, Mario, 2015. "Optimal monitoring and offset prices in voluntary emissions markets," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 202-223.
    6. repec:eee:resene:v:49:y:2017:i:c:p:33-47 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:kap:enreec:v:67:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s10640-015-9981-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:kap:enreec:v:68:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10640-016-0055-x is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Strand, Jon, 2016. "Mitigation incentives with climate finance and treaty options," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 166-174.
    10. Gren, Ing-Marie & Zeleke, Abenezer Aklilu, 2016. "Policy design for forest carbon sequestration: A review of the literature," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 128-136.
    11. Strand,Jon & Siddiqui,Sauleh, 2015. "Value of improved information about forest protection values, with application to rainforest valuation," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7423, The World Bank.
    12. Bento, Antonio M. & Kanbur, Ravi & Leard, Benjamin, 2015. "Designing efficient markets for carbon offsets with distributional constraints," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 51-71.
    13. May, Peter H. & Soares-Filho, Britaldo Silveira & Strand, Jon, 2013. "How much is the Amazon worth ? the state of knowledge concerning the value of preserving amazon rainforests," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6668, The World Bank.

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