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Optimal Carbon Taxation and Horizontal Equity: A Welfare-Theoretic Approach with Application to German Household Data

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  • Martin C. Hänsel
  • Max Franks
  • Matthias Kalkuhl
  • Ottmar Edenhofer

Abstract

We develop a model of optimal carbon taxation and redistribution taking into account horizontal equity concerns by considering heterogeneous energy efficiencies. By deriving first- and second-best rules for policy instruments including carbon taxes, transfers and energy subsidies, we then investigate analytically how horizontal equity is considered in the social welfare maximizing tax structure. We calibrate the model to German household data and a 30 percent emission reduction goal. Our results show that energy-intensive households should receive more redistributive resources than energy-efficient households if and only if social inequality aversion is sufficiently high. We further find that redistribution of carbon tax revenue via household-specific transfers is the first-best policy. Equal per-capita transfers do not suffer from informational problems, but increase mitigation costs by around 15 percent compared to the first-best for unity inequality aversion. Adding renewable energy subsidies or non-linear energy subsidies, reduces mitigation costs further without relying on observability of households’ energy efficiency.

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  • Martin C. Hänsel & Max Franks & Matthias Kalkuhl & Ottmar Edenhofer, 2021. "Optimal Carbon Taxation and Horizontal Equity: A Welfare-Theoretic Approach with Application to German Household Data," CESifo Working Paper Series 8931, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_8931
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    Cited by:

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    2. Eydam, Ulrich & Diluiso, Francesca, 2022. "How to Redistribute the Revenues from Climate Policy? A Dynamic Perspective with Heterogeneous Households," VfS Annual Conference 2022 (Basel): Big Data in Economics 264076, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    3. Sommer, Stephan & Mattauch, Linus & Pahle, Michael, 2022. "Supporting carbon taxes: The role of fairness," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 195(C).
    4. Missbach, Leonard & Steckel, Jan Christoph, 2024. "Distributional impacts of climate policy and effective compensation: Evidence from 88 countries," EconStor Preprints 296491, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    5. Ottmar Edenhofer & Max Franks & Matthias Kalkuhl & Artur Runge-Metzger, 2023. "On the Governance of Carbon Dioxide Removal – A Public Economics Perspective," CESifo Working Paper Series 10370, CESifo.
    6. Ulrich Eydam & Francesca Diluiso, 2022. "How to Redistribute the Revenues from Climate Policy? A Dynamic Perspective with Financially Constrained Households," CEPA Discussion Papers 45, Center for Economic Policy Analysis.
    7. Franziska Funke & Linus Mattauch & Thomas Douenne & Adrien Fabre & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2024. "Supporting carbon pricing when interest rates are higher," Berlin School of Economics Discussion Papers 0038, Berlin School of Economics.
    8. Li, Yangfan & Zhang, Xiaoyun, 2023. "Recycling scheme of carbon pricing for inclusive decarbonization and energy transition: A recursive computable general equilibrium analysis in China," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 217(C).
    9. Hänsel Martin C. & Edenhofer Ottmar, 2023. "A New Decade of Research on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 243(5), pages 471-476, October.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    carbon price; horizontal equity; redistribution; renewable energy subsidies; climate policy; just transition;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • Q52 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Pollution Control Adoption and Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment Effects
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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