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Local Solutions to Global Problems: Policy Choice and Regulatory Jurisdiction

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  • James Bushnell
  • Carla Peterman
  • Catherine Wolfram

Abstract

This paper considers the efficiency of various types of environmental regulations when they are applied locally to pollutants whose damages extend outside the jurisdiction of the local regulator. We draw on examples from state- and city-level efforts to address climate change by enacting policies to reduce greenhouse gases. While previous work has noted the possibility for leakage, whereby the polluting sources move outside the jurisdiction of the regulation in order to escape it, we note an additional problem when policies are targeted downstream at consumers of goods whose production creates pollution. Specifically, we show how consumer-based policies can be circumvented by a simple reshuffling of who is buying from whom. We argue that the leakage and reshuffling problems are most pronounced with more flexible or market-based regulations. We conclude that localities may have the most effect on global pollutants when they enact efficiency standards or targeted subsidies.

Suggested Citation

  • James Bushnell & Carla Peterman & Catherine Wolfram, 2007. "Local Solutions to Global Problems: Policy Choice and Regulatory Jurisdiction," NBER Working Papers 13472, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13472
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Randy Becker & Vernon Henderson, 2000. "Effects of Air Quality Regulations on Polluting Industries," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 379-421, April.
    2. Stephen P. Holland & Jonathan E. Hughes & Christopher R. Knittel, 2009. "Greenhouse Gas Reductions under Low Carbon Fuel Standards?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 106-146, February.
    3. Auffhammer, Maximilian & Carson, Richard T., 2006. "Forecasting the Path of China's CO2 Emissions: Offsetting Kyoto - and Then Some," CUDARE Working Papers 7197, University of California, Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
    4. 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.
    5. Ellerman,A. Denny & Joskow,Paul L. & Schmalensee,Richard & Montero,Juan-Pablo & Bailey,Elizabeth M., 2005. "Markets for Clean Air," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521023894, October.
      • Ellerman,A. Denny & Joskow,Paul L. & Schmalensee,Richard & Montero,Juan-Pablo & Bailey,Elizabeth M., 2000. "Markets for Clean Air," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521660839, December.
    6. Bushnell, James & Wolfram, Catherine, 2008. "Electricity Markets," Staff General Research Papers Archive 31547, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    7. Robert N. Stavins, 1998. "What Can We Learn from the Grand Policy Experiment? Lessons from SO2 Allowance Trading," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 69-88, Summer.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carley, Sanya, 2011. "Decarbonization of the U.S. electricity sector: Are state energy policy portfolios the solution?," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 1004-1023, September.
    2. Yin, Haitao & Powers, Nicholas, 2010. "Do state renewable portfolio standards promote in-state renewable generation[glottal stop]," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 1140-1149, February.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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