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Carbon Allowance Auction Design: An Assessment of Options for the United States

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  • Giuseppe Lopomo
  • Leslie M. Marx
  • David McAdams
  • Brian Murray

Abstract

Carbon allowance auctions are a component of existing and proposed regional cap-and-trade programs in the United States and are also included in recent proposed bills in the U.S. Congress that would establish a national cap-and-trade program to regulate greenhouse gases ("carbon"). We discuss and evaluate the two leading candidates for auction format: a uniform-price sealed-bid auction and an ascending-bid dynamic auction, either of which could be augmented with a "price collar" to ensure that the price of allowances is neither too high nor too low. We identify the primary trade-offs between these two formats as applied to carbon allowance auctions and suggest additional auction design features that address potential concerns about efficiency losses from collusion and other factors. We conclude that, based on currently available evidence, a uniform-price sealed-bid auction is more appropriate for the sale of carbon allowances than the other leading auction formats, in part because it offers increased robustness to collusion without significant sacrifice of price discovery. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Giuseppe Lopomo & Leslie M. Marx & David McAdams & Brian Murray, 2011. "Carbon Allowance Auction Design: An Assessment of Options for the United States," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 5(1), pages 25-43, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:renvpo:v:5:y:2011:i:1:p:25-43
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    2. Luca Corazzini & Stefano Galavotti & Rupert Sausgruber & Paola Valbonesi, 2017. "Allotment in first-price auctions: an experimental investigation," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 20(1), pages 70-99, March.
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    4. Regina Betz & Ben Greiner & Sascha Schweitzer & Stefan Seifert, 2014. "Auction Format and Auction Sequence in Multi-Item Multi-Unit Auctions - An experimental study," Discussion Papers 2014-31, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
    5. Holt, Charles A. & Shobe, William M., 2016. "Reprint of: Price and quantity collars for stabilizing emission allowance prices: Laboratory experiments on the EU ETS market stability reserve," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 69-86.
    6. Chih Chang, Ching & Chia Lai, Tin, 2013. "Carbon allowance allocation in the transportation industry," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 1091-1097.
    7. Warwick McKibbin & Adele Morris & Peter Wilcoxen, 2014. "A Proposal to Integrate Price Mechanisms into International Climate Negotiations," Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(3), pages 600-608, September.
    8. Manzano, Carolina & Vives, Xavier, 2016. "Market Power and Welfare in Asymmetric Divisible Good Auctions," CEPR Discussion Papers 11731, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Rachel Bodsky & Domenic Donato & Kevin James & David Porter, 2012. "Experimental Evidence on the Properties of the California’s Cap and Trade Price Containment Reserve," Working Papers 12-12, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    10. Veronika Grimm & Lyuba Ilieva, 2013. "An experiment on emissions trading: the effect of different allocation mechanisms," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 44(3), pages 308-338, December.
    11. Peyman Khezr & Ian A. MacKenzie, 2018. "An efficient and implementable auction for environmental rights," Discussion Papers Series 587, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.

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