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Carbon Emission Policies in Key Economies


  • Commission, Productivity

    (Productivity Commission)


The Australian Government asked the Productivity Commission to undertake a study on the ‘effective’ carbon prices that result from emissions and energy reduction policies in Australia and other key economies (the UK, USA, Germany, New Zealand, China, India, Japan and South Korea). The Commissions research report, released 9 June 2011, provides a stocktake of the large number of policy measures in the electricity generation and road transport sectors of the countries studied. And it provides estimates of the burdens associated with these policies in each country and the abatement achieved. While the results are based on a robust methodology, data limitations have meant that some estimates could only be indicative. More than 1000 carbon policy measures were identified in the nine countries studied, ranging from (limited) emissions trading schemes to policies that support particular types of abatement technology. While these disparate measures cannot be expressed as an equivalent single price on greenhouse gas emissions, all policies impose costs that someone must pay. The Commission has interpreted ‘effective’ carbon prices broadly to mean the cost of reducing greenhouse gas emissions — the ‘price’ of abatement achieved by particular policies. The estimated cost per unit of abatement achieved varied widely, both across programs within each country and in aggregate across countries. The relative cost effectiveness of price-based approaches is illustrated for Australia by stylised modelling that suggests that the abatement from existing policies for electricity could have been achieved at a fraction of the cost. The estimated price effects of supply-side policies have generally been modest, other than for electricity in Germany and the UK. Such price uplifts are of some relevance to assessing carbon leakage and competitiveness impacts, but are very preliminary and substantially more information would be required.

Suggested Citation

  • Commission, Productivity, 2011. "Carbon Emission Policies in Key Economies," Research Reports, Productivity Commission, Government of Australia, number 47.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:prodcs:0047

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    Cited by:

    1. Breyer, Christian & Koskinen, Otto & Blechinger, Philipp, 2015. "Profitable climate change mitigation: The case of greenhouse gas emission reduction benefits enabled by solar photovoltaic systems," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 610-628.

    More about this item


    carbon pricing; cost abatement; greenhouse gas emissions; abatement technology; carbon policy; energy reduction policy; emissions trading scheme; carbon leakage;

    JEL classification:

    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming


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