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Optimizing Voluntary Deforestation Policy in the Face of Adverse Selection and Costly Transfers

Author

Listed:
  • Arthur van Benthem

    () (Stanford University, Department of Economics)

  • Suzi Kerr

    () (Motu Economic and Public Policy Research)

Abstract

As part of international climate change policy, voluntary opt-in programs to reduce emissions in unregulated sectors or countries have spurred considerable discussion. Since any regulator will make errors in predicting baselines, adverse selection will reduce efficiency since participants will self-select into the program. In contrast, pure subsidies lead to full participation but require large financial transfers; this is a particular challenge across countries. A global social planner facing costless transfers would choose such a subsidy to maximize efficiency. However, any actual policy needs to be individually rational for both the buying (industrialized) and selling (developing) country. We present a simple model to analyze this trade-off between adverse selection and infra-marginal transfers. The model leads to the following findings. First, extending the scale of voluntary programs both improves efficiency and reduces transfers. Second, the set of individually rational and Pareto efficient policies typically features a combination of credit discounting and stringent assigned baselines which reduce efficiency. Third, if the industrialized countries can be persuaded to be more generous, the feasible policy set can come close to the globally efficient policy to avoid deforestation..

Suggested Citation

  • Arthur van Benthem & Suzi Kerr, 2010. "Optimizing Voluntary Deforestation Policy in the Face of Adverse Selection and Costly Transfers," Working Papers 10_04, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtu:wpaper:10_04
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Mason, Charles F. & Plantinga, Andrew J., 2013. "The additionality problem with offsets: Optimal contracts for carbon sequestration in forests," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 1-14.
    2. Suzi Kerr & Leslie Lipper & Alexander S.P. Pfaff & Romina Cavatassi & Benjamin Davis & Joanna Hendy & Arturo Sanchez, 2004. "Will Buying Tropical Forest Carbon Benefit The Poor? Evidence from Costa Rica," Working Papers 04-20, Agricultural and Development Economics Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO - ESA).
    3. Montero, Juan-Pablo, 2000. "Optimal design of a phase-in emissions trading program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 273-291, February.
    4. Fischer, Carolyn, 2005. "Project-based mechanisms for emissions reductions: balancing trade-offs with baselines," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(14), pages 1807-1823, September.
    5. Strand, Jon, 1997. "Developing-country resource extraction with asymmetric information and sovereign debt: a theoretical analysis," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(03), pages 265-289, July.
    6. Juan-Pablo Montero, 1999. "Voluntary Compliance with Market-Based Environmental Policy: Evidence from the U.S. Acid Rain Program," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(5), pages 998-1033, October.
    7. Arguedas, Carmen & van Soest, Daan P., 2009. "On reducing the windfall profits in environmental subsidy programs," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 192-205, September.
    8. Lewis, David J. & Plantinga, Andrew J. & Nelson, Erik & Polasky, Stephen, 2011. "The efficiency of voluntary incentive policies for preventing biodiversity loss," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 192-211, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Woodward, Richard T. & Newburn, David A. & Mezzatesta, Mariano, 2016. "Additionality and reverse crowding out for pollution offsets in water quality trading," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 224-231.
    2. Mariano Mezzatesta & David A. Newburn & Richard T. Woodward, 2013. "Additionality and the Adoption of Farm Conservation Practices," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 89(4), pages 722-742.
    3. Eric Karpas & Suzi Kerr, 2011. "Preliminary Evidence on Responses to the New Zealand Forestry Emissions Trading Scheme," Working Papers 11_09, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.
    4. repec:eee:enepol:v:111:y:2017:i:c:p:9-17 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Millard-Ball, Adam, 2013. "The trouble with voluntary emissions trading: Uncertainty and adverse selection in sectoral crediting programs☆☆Special thanks to Suzi Kerr, Lawrence Goulder, Michael Wara, Arthur van Benthem, Lee Sch," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 40-55.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Voluntary opt-in; adverse selection; deforestation; offsets; emissions trading; REDD;

    JEL classification:

    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth

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