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Neutralizing the Adverse Industry Impacts of CO2 Abatement Policies: What Does It Cost?

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  • Bovenberg, A. Lans
  • Goulder, Lawrence H.

Abstract

The most cost-effective policies for achieving CO2 abatement (e.g., carbon taxes) are considered politically unacceptable because of distributional consequences. This paper explores policies designed to address distributional concerns. Using an intertemporal, numerical general equilibrium model of the United States, we examine how efficiency costs change when CO2 abatement policies include elements that neutralize adverse impacts on energy industries. We find that desirable distributional outcomes can be achieved at relatively low cost in terms of efficiency. Without substantial added cost to the overall economy, the government can implement carbon abatement policies that protect profits and equity values in fossil-fuel industries. The key to this conclusion is that CO2 abatement policies have the potential to generate rents that are very large in relation to the potential loss of profit. By enabling firms to retain only a very small fraction of these potential rents, the government can protect firms' profits and equity values. Consequently, the government needs to grandfather only a small percentage of CO2 emissions permits or, similarly, must exempt only a small fraction of emissions from the base of a carbon tax. Each of these government policies involves only a small sacrifice of potential government revenue. Such revenue has an efficiency value because it can be used to finance cuts in pre-existing distortionary taxes. Because these policies give up little of this potential revenue, they involve only a small sacrifice in terms of efficiency. We also find that there is a very large difference between preserving firms' profits and preserving their tax payments. Allowing firms to enjoy a dollar-for-dollar offset to their payments of carbon taxes - for example, through industry-specific cuts in corporate tax rates - substantially overcompensates firms, raising profits and equity values significantly relative to the unregulated situation. This reflects the fact that producers can shift onto consumers most of the burden from a carbon tax. The efficiency costs of such policies are far greater than the costs of policies that do not overcompensate firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Bovenberg, A. Lans & Goulder, Lawrence H., 2000. "Neutralizing the Adverse Industry Impacts of CO2 Abatement Policies: What Does It Cost?," Discussion Papers 10647, Resources for the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:rffdps:10647
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    Cited by:

    1. Dissou, Yazid, 2005. "Cost-effectiveness of the performance standard system to reduce CO2 emissions in Canada: a general equilibrium analysis," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 187-207, October.
    2. Cramton, Peter & Kerr, Suzi, 2002. "Tradeable carbon permit auctions: How and why to auction not grandfather," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 333-345, March.
    3. Paul O'Brien & Ann Vourc'h, 2002. "Encouraging Environmentally Sustainable Growth: Experience in OECD Countries," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 29(2), pages 93-111, June.
    4. Fischer, Carolyn & Fox, Alan, 2004. "Output-Based Allocations of Emissions Permits: Efficiency and Distributional Effects in a General Equilibrium Setting with Taxes and Trade," Discussion Papers dp-04-37, Resources For the Future.
    5. Kverndokk, Snorre & Rose, Adam, 2008. "Equity and Justice in Global Warming Policy," International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, now publishers, vol. 2(2), pages 135-176, October.
    6. Steffen Hentrich & Patrick Matschoss & Peter Michaelis, 2009. "Emissions trading and competitiveness: lessons from Germany," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(3), pages 316-329, May.
    7. Goulder, Lawrence, 2002. "Mitigating the Adverse Impacts of CO2 Abatement Policies on Energy-Intensive Industries," Discussion Papers dp-02-22, Resources For the Future.
    8. Robert N. Stavins, 2008. "Addressing climate change with a comprehensive US cap-and-trade system," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(2), pages 298-321, Summer.
    9. Galinato, Gregmar I. & Yoder, Jonathan K., 2010. "An integrated tax-subsidy policy for carbon emission reduction," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 310-326, August.
    10. Peter S. Schmidt & Therese Werner, 2012. "Channeling the final Say in Politics," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 12/165, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
    11. John Pezzey, 2003. "Emission Taxes and Tradeable Permits A Comparison of Views on Long-Run Efficiency," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 26(2), pages 329-342, October.
    12. Frédéric Branger & Oskar Lecuyer & Philippe Quirion, 2013. "The European Union Emissions Trading System : should we throw the flagship out with the bathwater ?," Working Papers hal-00866408, HAL.
    13. Frédéric Branger & Oskar Lecuyer & Philippe Quirion, 2013. "The European Union Emissions Trading System : should we throw the flagship out with the bathwater ?," CIRED Working Papers hal-00866408, HAL.
    14. Frédéric Branger & Oskar Lecuyer & Philippe Quirion, 2015. "The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme: should we throw the flagship out with the bathwater?," Post-Print hal-01137875, HAL.
    15. Brown, Marilyn A. & Levine, Mark D. & Short, Walter & Koomey, Jonathan G., 2001. "Scenarios for a clean energy future," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(14), pages 1179-1196, November.
    16. Imran, Kashif & Hassan, Tehzeebul & Aslam, Muhammad Farooq & Ngan, Hon-Wing & Ahmad, Intesar, 2009. "Simulation analysis of emissions trading impact on a non-utility power plant," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 5694-5703, December.
    17. Löfgren, Åsa & Burtraw, Dallas & Wråke, Markus & Malinovskaya, Anna, 2015. "Architecture of the EU Emissions Trading System in Phase 3 and the Distribution of Allowance Asset Values," Working Papers in Economics 634, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.

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