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An Experimental Investigation of Hard and Soft Price Ceilings in Emissions Permit Markets

  • Perkis, David F.
  • Cason, Timothy N.
  • Tyner, Wallace E.

Tradable emissions permits have been implemented to control pollution levels in various markets around the world and represent a major component of legislative efforts to control greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States. Because permits are supplied for a fixed level of pollution, allowing the market for permits to determine the price, there is a desire for price control mechanisms which would protect firms otherwise susceptible to price spikes caused by fluctuations in the demand for pollution abatement. We test permit markets in an experimental laboratory setting to determine the effectiveness of several price control mechanisms. Evidence suggests that both permit supply adjustments and traditional price ceilings (hard ceilings) effectively limit elevated prices in this setting. In contrast, reserve auctions (associated with soft ceiling designs) do not consistently control prices, especially when a minimum reserve permit price is applied. Furthermore, the grandfathering of permits allows permit sellers to realize significant welfare gains at the expense of buyers under a soft ceiling policy. Of the two ceiling options, our results point towards a hard ceiling as the preferred mechanism for controlling short term price increases.

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Paper provided by Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in its series 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington with number 124096.

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Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea12:124096
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  1. Stranlund, John K. & Murphy, James J. & Spraggon, John M., 2011. "An experimental analysis of compliance in dynamic emissions markets," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 414-429.
  2. Samuel Fankhauser & Cameron Hepburn, 2010. "Designing carbon markets, part I: carbon markets in time," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 28832, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Harrison Fell & Richard Morgenstern, 2010. "Alternative Approaches to Cost Containment in a Cap-and-Trade System," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 47(2), pages 275-297, October.
  4. Isaac, R Mark & Plott, Charles R, 1981. "Price Controls and the Behavior of Auction Markets: An Experimental Examination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 448-59, June.
  5. Jacob K. Goeree & Charles A. Holt & Karen Palmer & William Shobe & Dallas Burtraw, 2010. "An Experimental Study of Auctions Versus Grandfathering to Assign Pollution Permits," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(2-3), pages 514-525, 04-05.
  6. Charles N. Noussair & Charles R. Plott & Raymond G. Riezman, 2013. "An Experimental Investigation of the Patterns of International Trade," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: International Trade Agreements and Political Economy, chapter 17, pages 299-328 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
  7. Cason, Timothy N. & Gangadharan, Lata, 2006. "Emissions variability in tradable permit markets with imperfect enforcement and banking," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 199-216, October.
  8. Timothy N. Cason & Charles Noussair, 2007. "A Market With Frictions In The Matching Process: An Experimental Study," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 48(2), pages 665-691, 05.
  9. Burtraw, Dallas & Palmer, Karen & Kahn, Danny, 2009. "A Symmetric Safety Valve," Discussion Papers dp-09-06, Resources For the Future.
  10. Brian C. Murray & Richard G. Newell & William A. Pizer, 2009. "Balancing Cost and Emissions Certainty: An Allowance Reserve for Cap-and-Trade," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 3(1), pages 84-103, Winter.
  11. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
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