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The logic of collective action and Australia’s Climate Policy


  • John C.V. Pezzey

    () (Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia)

  • Salim Mazouz

    () (Eco Perspectives, Canberra, Australia)

  • Frank Jotzo

    () (Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University, Australia)


The Australian Government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), March 2009, set a target of 5 to 15 per cent emission cuts during 2000 and 2020. The proposed target is weak and is likely to increase mitigation costs in Australia in the long run. This research report analyses the target’s efficiency as well as provisions for preventing carbon leakage. The research also looks at the nature of changes to the CPRS made during 2008 as well as the likely cause of these changes. The free allocation of output-linked, tradable permits to Emissions-Intensive, Trade-Exposed (EITE) sectors was much higher than previously proposed and greater than what is needed to prevent carbon leakage. This means EITE emissions could rise by 13 per cent during 2010 and 2020. To meet the proposed national targets, non-EITE sectors must also cut emissions by 34 to 51 per cent (or make equivalent permit imports). This is far from a cost-effective outcome. The weak targets and over-generous EITE assistance illustrate how collective action by the ‘carbon lobby’ can damage economic efficiency. To resist this, new national or international institutions to assess lobby claims impartially are needed. More government publicity about the true economic importance of carbon-intensive sectors is also required. Over-concern that voluntary emission cuts will be nullified by the CPRS is another, different, demonstration of lobby power. Key words: climate policy, Australia, targets, emission trading, carbon leakage, lobbying

Suggested Citation

  • John C.V. Pezzey & Salim Mazouz & Frank Jotzo, 2009. "The logic of collective action and Australia’s Climate Policy," Environmental Economics Research Hub Research Reports 0924, Environmental Economics Research Hub, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:een:eenhrr:0924

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lambert Schneider, 2009. "Assessing the additionality of CDM projects: practical experiences and lessons learned," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(3), pages 242-254, May.
    2. Pezzey, John C.V. & Jotzo, Frank & Quiggin, John C., 2008. "Fiddling while carbon burns: why climate policy needs pervasive emission pricing as well as technology promotion," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 52(1), pages 1-14.
    3. Carolyn Fischer & Alan K. Fox, 2007. "Output-Based Allocation of Emissions Permits for Mitigating Tax and Trade Interactions," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 83(4), pages 575-599.
    4. Weber, Christopher L. & Peters, Glen P., 2009. "Climate change policy and international trade: Policy considerations in the US," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 432-440, February.
    5. Babiker, Mustafa H., 2005. "Climate change policy, market structure, and carbon leakage," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 421-445, March.
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    7. Garnaut,Ross, 2008. "The Garnaut Climate Change Review," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521744447.
    8. Barker, Terry & Junankar, Sudhir & Pollitt, Hector & Summerton, Philip, 2007. "Carbon leakage from unilateral Environmental Tax Reforms in Europe, 1995-2005," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(12), pages 6281-6292, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wood, Peter John & Jotzo, Frank, 2011. "Price floors for emissions trading," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 1746-1753, March.
    2. Pezzey, John C.V. & Jotzo, Frank, 2010. "Tax-Versus-Trading and Free Emission Shares as Issues for Climate Policy Design," Research Reports 95049, Australian National University, Environmental Economics Research Hub.
    3. Cheung, Grace & Davies, Peter J., 2017. "In the transformation of energy systems: what is holding Australia back?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 96-108.
    4. Andr�s J. Drew, 2010. "New rules, new politics, same actors � explaining policy change in the EU ETS," GRI Working Papers 29, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    5. Franco, Daniel, 2012. "Beni comuni, beni pubblici e risorse ambientali: il ruolo dell’azione collettiva
      [Public goods, common goods and natural resources: the role of the collective action]
      ," MPRA Paper 52357, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Mar 2012.

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