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Carbon Prices for the Next Thousand Years

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  • Reyer Gerlagh
  • Matti Liski

Abstract

Climate is a persistent asset, bar none: changes in climate-related stocks have consequences spanning over centuries or possibly millennia to the future. To reconcile the discounting of such far-distant impacts and realism of the shorter-term decisions, we consider hyperbolic time-preferences in a climate-economy model. Time-changing utility discount rates have unexplored general-equilibrium effects: carbon prices exceed the pure carbon externality costs - the Pigouvian tax level - by multiple factors in our quantitative assessment. The climate-economy model is rich in details but can be solved in closed-form yielding Markov carbon prices dependent on climate system parameters, damage estimates, technology parameters, and both short- and long-term time preferences. The equilibrium time discount rate is endogenous, and it can justify high carbon taxes as advocated by Stern while maintaining the realism of the macroeconomic outcome, thus providing a solution for the dilemma centering the carbon tax-discount rate debate. The welfare ranking of the policy alternatives is unambiguous: enforcing the Pigouvian tax decreases a consistently-defined welfare measure vis-a-vis the Markov equilibrium.

Suggested Citation

  • Reyer Gerlagh & Matti Liski, 2012. "Carbon Prices for the Next Thousand Years," CESifo Working Paper Series 3855, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3855
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    Cited by:

    1. Armon Rezai & Frederick van der Ploeg & Cees Withagen, 2012. "The Optimal Carbon Tax and Economic Growth: Additive versus Multiplicative Damages," CEEES Paper Series CE3S-05/12, European University at St. Petersburg, Department of Economics.
    2. Moreaux, Michel & Withagen, Cees, 2013. "Climate Change and Carbon Capture and Storage," IDEI Working Papers 774, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    3. van den Bijgaart, Inge & Gerlagh, Reyer & Liski, Matti, 2016. "A simple formula for the social cost of carbon," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 75-94.
    4. Rezai, Armon & van der Ploeg, Frederick, 2015. "Robustness of a simple rule for the social cost of carbon," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 48-55.
    5. Grimaud, André & Rouge, Luc, 2014. "Carbon sequestration, economic policies and growth," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 307-331.
    6. Karp, Larry, 2015. "Railroad discounting," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 87-90.
    7. Iverson, Terrence, 2012. "Optimal Carbon Taxes with Non-Constant Time Preference," MPRA Paper 43264, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. van der Ploeg, Frederick & Withagen, Cees, 2012. "Is there really a green paradox?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 64(3), pages 342-363.
    9. Gerlagh, Reyer & Kverndokk, Snorre & Rosendahl, Knut Einar, 2014. "The optimal time path of clean energy R&D policy when patents have finite lifetime," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 2-19.
    10. Geoffrey Heal & Antony Millner, 2013. "Uncertainty and Decision in Climate Change Economics," NBER Working Papers 18929, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Kollenbach, Gilbert, 2017. "On the optimal accumulation of renewable energy generation capacity," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 157-179.
    12. Armon Rezai & Frederick Van der Ploeg, 2016. "Intergenerational Inequality Aversion, Growth, and the Role of Damages: Occam's Rule for the Global Carbon Tax," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(2), pages 493-522.
    13. Moreaux, Michel & Withagen, Cees, 2015. "Optimal abatement of carbon emission flows," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 55-70.
    14. Michielsen, T.O., 2013. "Environmental Catastrophes Under Time-inconsistent Preferences," Other publications TiSEM 921f1ff7-67c9-45bc-968d-7, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    15. Hassler, J. & Krusell, P. & Smith, A.A., 2016. "Environmental Macroeconomics," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 1893-2008, Elsevier.
    16. de Zeeuw, Aart J. & van der Ploeg, Frederick, 2014. "Climate Tipping and Economic Growth: Precautionary Saving and the Social Cost of Carbon," CEPR Discussion Papers 9982, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    17. Rick Van der Ploeg & Armon Rezai & Cees Withagen, 2012. "Economic Growth and the Social Cost of Carbon: Additive versus Multiplicative Damages," OxCarre Working Papers 093, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
    18. Lintunen, Jussi & Vilmi, Lauri, 2013. "On optimal emission control : Taxes, substitution and business cycles," Research Discussion Papers 24/2013, Bank of Finland.
    19. Larry S. Karp, 2012. "Provision of a Public Good with Altruistic Overlapping Generations and Many Tribes," CESifo Working Paper Series 3895, CESifo.
    20. Simon Dietz & Anca N. Matei, 2013. "Is there space for agreement on climate change? A non-parametric approach to policy evaluation," GRI Working Papers 136, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    carbon tax; discounting; climate change; inconsistent preferences;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth

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