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Environmental Tax Reform; Principles from Theory and Practice to Date

  • Ian W.H. Parry
  • John Norregaard
  • Dirk Heine

This paper recommends a system of upstream taxes on fossil fuels, combined with refunds for downstream emissions capture, to reduce carbon and local pollution emissions. Motor fuel taxes should also account for congestion and other externalities associated with vehicle use, at least until mileage-based taxes are widely introduced. An examination of existing energy/environmental tax systems in Germany, Sweden, Turkey, and Vietnam suggests that there is substantial scope for policy reform. This includes harmonizing taxes for pollution content across different fuels and end-users, better aligning tax rates with values for externalities, and scaling back taxes on vehicle ownership and electricity use that are redundant (on environmental grounds) in the presence of more targeted taxes.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 12/180.

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Length: 39
Date of creation: 01 Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:12/180
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  1. Bosquet, Benoit, 2000. "Environmental tax reform: does it work? A survey of the empirical evidence," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 19-32, July.
  2. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Schneider, Stephen H., 1999. "Induced technological change and the attractiveness of CO2 abatement policies," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3-4), pages 211-253, August.
  3. Lawrence H. Goulder & Ian W. H. Parry, 2008. "Instrument Choice in Environmental Policy," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 2(2), pages 152-174, Summer.
  4. Molly Macauley & Roger Sedjo, 2011. "Forests in climate policy: technical, institutional and economic issues in measurement and monitoring," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 16(5), pages 499-513, June.
  5. Sallee, James M. & Slemrod, Joel, 2012. "Car notches: Strategic automaker responses to fuel economy policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(11), pages 981-999.
  6. Burtraw, Dallas & Parry, Ian & Goulder, Lawrence & Williams III, Roberton, 1998. "The Cost-Effectiveness of Alternative Instruments for Environmental Protection in a Second-Best Setting," Discussion Papers dp-98-22, Resources For the Future.
  7. Parry, Ian W.H. & Evans, David A. & Oates, Wallace E., 2010. "Are Energy Efficiency Standards Justified?," Discussion Papers dp-10-59, Resources For the Future.
  8. Oates, Wallace E & Portney, Paul R & McGartland, Albert M, 1989. "The Net Benefits of Incentive-Based Regulation: A Case Study of Environmental Standard Setting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1233-42, December.
  9. Bovenberg, A.L. & de Mooij, R.A., 1994. "Environmental levies and distortionary taxation," Other publications TiSEM 4b32deaa-ec2f-4de7-b59b-9, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  10. Bernard, Alain L. & Fischer, Carolyn & Fox, Alan K., 2007. "Is there a rationale for output-based rebating of environmental levies?," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 83-101, May.
  11. Don Fullerton & Andrew Leicester & Stephen Smith, 2008. "Environmental Taxes," NBER Working Papers 14197, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Gilbert E. Metcalf, 2008. "Designing A Carbon Tax to Reduce U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions," NBER Working Papers 14375, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Inge Mayeres & Stef Proost, 1998. "Marginal Tax Reform, Externalities and Income Distribution," Center for Economic Studies - Discussion papers ces9832, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën.
  14. Nicholas Z. Muller & Robert Mendelsohn, 2012. "Efficient Pollution Regulation: Getting the Prices Right: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 608-12, February.
  15. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz & Ladoux, Norbert, 1998. "Externalities and optimal taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 343-364, December.
  16. Jaffe, Adam B. & Newell, Richard G. & Stavins, Robert N., 2003. "Chapter 11 Technological change and the environment," Handbook of Environmental Economics, in: K. G. Mäler & J. R. Vincent (ed.), Handbook of Environmental Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 11, pages 461-516 Elsevier.
  17. Fischer, Carolyn & Newell, Richard G., 2008. "Environmental and technology policies for climate mitigation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 142-162, March.
  18. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Mathai, Koshy, 2000. "Optimal CO2 Abatement in the Presence of Induced Technological Change," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 1-38, January.
  19. Brett, Craig & Keen, Michael, 2000. "Political uncertainty and the earmarking of environmental taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(3), pages 315-340, March.
  20. Hilary Sigman, 2003. "Taxing Hazardous Waste: The U.S. Experience," Departmental Working Papers 200306, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  21. Bas Jacobs & Ruud A. de Mooij, 2011. "Pigou Meets Mirrlees: On the Irrelevance of Tax Distortions for the Second-Best Pigouvian Tax," CESifo Working Paper Series 3342, CESifo Group Munich.
  22. Sterner, Thomas & Hoglund Isaksson, Lena, 2006. "Refunded emission payments theory, distribution of costs, and Swedish experience of NOx abatement," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 93-106, April.
  23. Popp, David, 2004. "ENTICE: endogenous technological change in the DICE model of global warming," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 742-768, July.
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