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Beneficial Leakage: The Effect of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative on Aggregate Emissions

Author

Listed:
  • Harrison Fell

    () (Division of Economics and Business, Colorado School of Mines)

  • Peter Maniloff

    () (Division of Economics and Business, Colorado School of Mines)

Abstract

Subglobal and subnational policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gases are often thought to be less effective than more geographically comprehensive policies as production, and thus emissions, of trade exposed industries may move from the regulated to the unregulated regions. This so-called leakage may negate all emission reductions from the regulated regions and, even worse, may lead to an overall increase in emissions if the unregulated regions have equally or more emissions intensive production. However, if the unregulated regions have less emissions intensive production, the regional regulation may prompt more switching to the relatively cleaner producers than would otherwise occur, creating a type of beneficial leakage. We use detailed electricity generation and transmission data to show that this might be the case for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a CO$_2$ cap-and-trade program for the electricity sector in select Northeastern U.S. states. We find evidence that electricity generation did leak out of the RGGI region to surrounding state, but electricity generation in the non-capped jurisdictions is less emissions intensive than in the RGGI region, resulting in a net decrease in aggregate emissions. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that one-quarter of apparent emissions reductions actually leaked but that this served to reduce total combined emissions by an additional one percent.

Suggested Citation

  • Harrison Fell & Peter Maniloff, 2015. "Beneficial Leakage: The Effect of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative on Aggregate Emissions," Working Papers 2015-06, Colorado School of Mines, Division of Economics and Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:mns:wpaper:wp201506
    as

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    File URL: http://econbus-papers.mines.edu/working-papers/wp201506.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2015
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Bushnell, James & Chen, Yihsu, 2012. "Allocation and leakage in regional cap-and-trade markets for CO2," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 647-668.
    2. Arik Levinson & M. Scott Taylor, 2008. "Unmasking The Pollution Haven Effect," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(1), pages 223-254, February.
    3. Joseph E. Aldy & William A. Pizer, 2015. "The Competitiveness Impacts of Climate Change Mitigation Policies," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(4), pages 565-595.
    4. Justin Caron, Sebastian Rausch, and Niven Winchester, 2015. "Leakage from sub-national climate policy: The case of Californias capandtrade program," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2).
    5. Rahel Aichele & Gabriel Felbermayr, 2015. "Kyoto and Carbon Leakage: An Empirical Analysis of the Carbon Content of Bilateral Trade," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(1), pages 104-115, March.
    6. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Jacobsen, Mark R. & van Benthem, Arthur A., 2012. "Unintended consequences from nested state and federal regulations: The case of the Pavley greenhouse-gas-per-mile limits," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 187-207.
    7. repec:clg:wpaper:2008-02 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Kahn, Matthew E. & Mansur, Erin T., 2013. "Do local energy prices and regulation affect the geographic concentration of employment?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 105-114.
    9. Joseph A. Cullen & Erin T. Mansur, 2014. "Inferring Carbon Abatement Costs in Electricity Markets: A Revealed Preference Approach using the Shale Revolution," NBER Working Papers 20795, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Bushnell, James & Chen, Yihsu & Zaragoza-Watkins, Matthew, 2014. "Downstream regulation of CO2 emissions in California's electricity sector," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 313-323.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ian Lange & Peter Maniloff, 2017. "Updating Allowance Allocations in Cap-and-Trade: Evidence from the NOx Budget Program," Working Papers 2017-01, Colorado School of Mines, Division of Economics and Business.

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