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Can a Unilateral Carbon Tax Reduce Emissions Elsewhere?

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  • Joshua Elliott
  • Don Fullerton

Abstract

One country that tries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions may fear that other countries get a competitive advantage and increase emissions ("leakage"). Estimates from computable general equilibrium (CGE) models such as Elliott et al (2010a,b) indicate that 15% to 25% of abatement might be offset by leakage. Yet the Fullerton et al (2012) analytical general equilibrium model shows an offsetting term with negative leakage. To derive analytical expressions, their model is quite simple, with only one good from each country or sector, a fixed stock of capital, competitive markets, and many identical consumers that purchase both goods. Their model is not intended to be realistic, but only to demonstrate the potential for negative leakage. Most CGE models do not allow for negative leakage. In this paper, we use a full CGE model with many countries and many goods to measure effects in a way that allows for negative leakage. We vary elasticities of substitution and confirm the analytical model's prediction that negative leakage depends on the ability of consumers to substitute into the untaxed good and the ability of firms to substitute from carbon emissions into labor or capital.

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua Elliott & Don Fullerton, 2013. "Can a Unilateral Carbon Tax Reduce Emissions Elsewhere?," NBER Working Papers 18897, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18897
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kathy Baylis & Don Fullerton & Daniel H. Karney, 2014. "Negative Leakage," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 51-73.
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    16. Meredith L. Fowlie, 2009. "Incomplete Environmental Regulation, Imperfect Competition, and Emissions Leakage," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 72-112, August.
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    1. repec:eee:pubeco:v:149:y:2017:i:c:p:35-46 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. van der Ploeg, Frederick, 2016. "Second-best carbon taxation in the global economy: The Green Paradox and carbon leakage revisited," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 85-105.
    3. Food and Agricultural Organization [FAO], 2016. "Climate Change and Food Systems: Global Assessments and Implications for Food Security and Trade," Working Papers id:8512, eSocialSciences.
    4. Liu, Shen & Colson, Gregory & Hao, Na & Wetzstein, Michael, 2018. "Toward an optimal household solar subsidy: A social-technical approach," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 377-387.
    5. repec:eee:jeeman:v:88:y:2018:i:c:p:95-113 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Wang, Qiang & Li, Rongrong, 2015. "Cheaper oil: A turning point in Paris climate talk?," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 1186-1192.
    7. Brock, William A. & Engström, Gustav & Grass, Dieter & Xepapadeas, Anastasios, 2013. "Energy balance climate models and general equilibrium optimal mitigation policies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 2371-2396.
    8. Holladay, J. Scott & Mohsin, Mohammed & Pradhan, Shreekar, 2018. "Emissions leakage, environmental policy and trade frictions," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 95-113.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • 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
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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