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Understanding the effectiveness of environmental offset policies

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  • Robert Hahn

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  • Kenneth Richards

Abstract

In the real world, taxes and cap-and-trade systems are rarely implemented in their pure form. In this paper, we examine a related approach that has been used widely in practice—which we refer to as an “offset.” The idea behind offsets is to encourage firms or entities that may not be a part of the main regulatory system to produce environmental improvements. These improvements can then be used to offset pollution reduction requirements for regulated entities. This paper analyzes how offsets are used in practice, and identifies key economic and political factors that help explain the use of offsets in certain situations. We find that offsets may often fail to take adequate account of environmental or ecosystem damages. We argue that the effectiveness of an offset policy depends on the political and institutional context in which it is developed. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Hahn & Kenneth Richards, 2013. "Understanding the effectiveness of environmental offset policies," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 103-119, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:regeco:v:44:y:2013:i:1:p:103-119
    DOI: 10.1007/s11149-013-9211-1
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11149-013-9211-1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Parry, Ian W. H. & Williams III, Roberton C. & Burtraw, Dallas, 1999. "The cost-effectiveness of alternative instruments for environmental protection in a second-best setting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 329-360, June.
    2. Montero, Juan-Pablo, 2000. "Optimal design of a phase-in emissions trading program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 273-291, February.
    3. Stavins, Robert N., 2003. "Experience with market-based environmental policy instruments," Handbook of Environmental Economics,in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 9, pages 355-435 Elsevier.
    4. Ellis, Jane & Winkler, Harald & Corfee-Morlot, Jan & Gagnon-Lebrun, Frederic, 2007. "CDM: Taking stock and looking forward," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 15-28, January.
    5. Michael Grubb & Tim Laing & Thomas Counsell & Catherine Willan, 2011. "Global carbon mechanisms: lessons and implications," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 104(3), pages 539-573, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.

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