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Contracting for Impure Public Goods: Carbon Offsets and Additionality

  • Charles Mason
  • Andrew Plantinga

Governments contracting with private agents for the provision of an impure public good must contend with agents who would potentially supply the good absent any payments. This additionality problem is centrally important to the use of carbon offsets to mitigate climate change. We analyze optimal contracts for forest carbon, an important offset category. A novel national-scale simulation of the contracts is conducted that uses econometric results derived from micro data. For a 50 million acre increase in forest area, annual government expenditures with optimal contracts are found to be about $4 billion lower compared to costs with a uniform subsidy.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16963.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16963.

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Date of creation: Apr 2011
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Publication status: published as Mason, C.F., and A.J. Plantinga. 201 3 . The Additionality Problem with Offsets: Optimal Contracts for Carbon Sequestration in Forests. Journal of Envi ronmental Economics and Management 66:1 - 14.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16963
Note: EEE
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  1. G. Cornelis van Kooten & Alison Eagle & James Manley & Tara Smolak, 2004. "How Costly are Carbon Offsets? A Meta-Analysis of Forest Carbon Sinks," Working Papers 2004-01, University of Victoria, Department of Economics, Resource Economics and Policy Analysis Research Group.
  2. van Benthem, Arthur A. & Kerr, Suzi, 2010. "Optimizing Voluntary Deforestation Policy in the Face of Adverse Selection and Costly Transfers," 2010 Conference, August 26-27, 2010, Nelson, New Zealand 96813, New Zealand Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
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