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Rules vs. Targets: Climate Treaties under Uncertainty

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Abstract

We demonstrate the advantages of a climate treaty based solely on rules for international permit markets when there is uncertainty about abatement costs and environmental damages. Such a ‘Rules Treaty’ comprises a scaling factor and a refunding rule. Each signatory can freely choose the number of permits it allocates to domestic firms. For every permit so issued, an international agency is allowed to issue additional permits in accordance with the scaling factor. The agency auctions all additional permits and refunds all the revenues to the signatories according to the refunding rule. Our main finding is that for a sufficiently large scaling factor, the Rules Treaty approximates the globally optimal outcome in every state of the world. In this sense, newly arriving information is optimally processed. This is in stark contrast to treaties based on emission targets, even if countries fully comply with such targets. If countries are sufficiently homogeneous there exists, moreover, a refunding rule under which every country that abates more under the treaty than in the status quo ante can be compensated, so that all countries will participate voluntarily. If, however, countries are rather heterogeneous, some may decline to participate.

Suggested Citation

  • Hans Gersbach & Quirin Oberpriller, 2012. "Rules vs. Targets: Climate Treaties under Uncertainty," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 12/159, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
  • Handle: RePEc:eth:wpswif:12-159
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    File URL: http://www.cer.ethz.ch/content/dam/ethz/special-interest/mtec/cer-eth/cer-eth-dam/documents/working-papers/WP-12-159.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gersbach, Hans & Winkler, Ralph, 2011. "International emission permit markets with refunding," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(6), pages 759-773, August.
    2. Joseph E. Aldy & Scott Barrett & Robert N. Stavins, 2003. "Thirteen plus one: a comparison of global climate policy architectures," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(4), pages 373-397, December.
    3. Helm, Carsten, 2003. "International emissions trading with endogenous allowance choices," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2737-2747, December.
    4. Rob Dellink & Michael Finus & Niels Olieman, 2008. "The stability likelihood of an international climate agreement," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 39(4), pages 357-377, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hans Gersbach & Marie-Catherine Riekhof, 2017. "Technology Treaties and Climate Change," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 17/268, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
    2. Blasch, Julia & Boogen, Nina & Filippini, Massimo & Kumar, Nilkanth, 2017. "Explaining electricity demand and the role of energy and investment literacy on end-use efficiency of Swiss households," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(S1), pages 89-102.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Rules Treaties; Target Treaties; Climate Change; Uncertainty; Global Refunding Scheme; International Permit Markets;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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