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Analysis of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Tax Proposals

Author

Listed:
  • Gilbert E. Metcalf
  • Sergey Paltsev
  • John Reilly
  • Henry Jacoby
  • Jennifer F. Holak

Abstract

The U.S. Congress is considering a set of bills designed to limit the nation's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This paper complements the analysis by Paltsev et al. (2007) of cap-and-trade bills and applies the MIT Emissions Prediction and Policy Analysis (EPPA) model to carry out an analysis of the tax proposals. Several lessons emerge from this analysis. First, a low starting tax rate combined with a low rate of growth in the tax rate will not reduce emissions significantly. Second, the costs of GHG reductions are reduced with the inclusion of non-CO2 gases in the carbon tax scheme. Third, welfare costs of the policies can be affected by the rate of growth of the tax, even after controlling for cumulative emissions. Fourth, a carbon tax -- like any form of carbon pricing -- is regressive. However, general equilibrium considerations suggest that the short-run measured regressivity may be overstated. Additionally, the regressivity can be offset with a carefully designed rebate of some or all of the revenue. Finally, the carbon tax bills that have been proposed or submitted are for the most part comparable to many of the carbon cap-and-trade proposals that have been suggested. Thus the choice between a carbon tax and cap-and-trade system can be made on the basis of considerations other than their effectiveness at reducing emissions over some control period.

Suggested Citation

  • Gilbert E. Metcalf & Sergey Paltsev & John Reilly & Henry Jacoby & Jennifer F. Holak, 2008. "Analysis of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Tax Proposals," NBER Working Papers 13980, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13980
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Gilbert Metcalf & David Weisbach, 2008. "The Design of a Carbon Tax," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0727, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
    2. Gonzalez, Fidel, 2012. "Distributional effects of carbon taxes: The case of Mexico," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(6), pages 2102-2115.
    3. Jenny Sumner & Lori Bird & Hillary Dobos, 2011. "Carbon taxes: a review of experience and policy design considerations," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(2), pages 922-943, March.
    4. Michael I. Cragg & Yuyu Zhou & Kevin Gurney & Matthew E. Kahn, 2013. "Carbon Geography: The Political Economy Of Congressional Support For Legislation Intended To Mitigate Greenhouse Gas Production," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(2), pages 1640-1650, April.
    5. Last Name, First Name, 2009. "Distributional Impacts of Carbon Pricing Policies in the Electricity Sector," Discussion Papers dp-09-43, Resources For the Future.
    6. Dorothée CHARLIER & Mouez FODHA & Djamel KIRAT, 2021. "CO2 Emissions from the Residential Sector in Europe: Some Insights form a Country-Level Assessment," LEO Working Papers / DR LEO 2849, Orleans Economics Laboratory / Laboratoire d'Economie d'Orleans (LEO), University of Orleans.
    7. Ian Parry, 2015. "Carbon Tax Burdens on Low-Income Households: A Reason for Delaying Climate Policy?," CESifo Working Paper Series 5482, CESifo.
    8. Corbett Grainger & Charles Kolstad, 2010. "Who Pays a Price on Carbon?," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 46(3), pages 359-376, July.
    9. Rausch, Sebastian & Schwarz, Giacomo A., 2016. "Household heterogeneity, aggregation, and the distributional impacts of environmental taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 43-57.
    10. Burtraw, Dallas & Sweeney, Richard & Walls, Margaret, 2009. "The Incidence of U.S. Climate Policy: Alternative Uses of Revenues From a Cap-and-Trade Auction," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 62(3), pages 497-518, September.
    11. Datta, Ashokankur, 2010. "The incidence of fuel taxation in India," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(Supplemen), pages 26-33, September.

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    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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