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How Should Environmental Policy Respond to Business Cycles? Optimal Policy under Persistent Productivity Shocks

  • Garth Heutel

    (University of North Carolina Greensboro)

How should environmental policy respond to economic fluctuations caused by persistent productivity shocks? This paper answers that question using a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium real business cycle model that includes a pollution externality. I first estimate the relationship between the cyclical components of carbon dioxide emissions and US GDP and find it to be inelastic. Using this result to calibrate the model, I find that optimal policy allows carbon emissions to be procyclical: increasing during expansions and decreasing during recessions. However, optimal policy dampens the procyclicality of emissions compared to the unregulated case. A price effect from costlier abatement during booms outweighs an income effect of greater demand for clean air. I also model a decentralized economy, where government chooses an emissions tax or quantity restriction and firms and consumers respond. The optimal emissions tax rate and the optimal emissions quota are both procyclical: during recessions, the tax rate and the emissions quota both decrease. (Copyright: Elsevier)

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.red.2011.05.002
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Article provided by Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics in its journal Review of Economic Dynamics.

Volume (Year): 15 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 244-264

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Handle: RePEc:red:issued:10-62
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