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Carbon Taxes vs. Cap and Trade: A Critical Review

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  • Lawrence H. Goulder
  • Andrew Schein

Abstract

We examine the relative attractions of a carbon tax, a "pure" cap-and-trade system, and a "hybrid" option (a cap-and-trade system with a price ceiling and/or price floor). We show that the various options are equivalent along more dimensions than often are recognized. In addition, we bring out important dimensions along which the approaches have very different impacts. Several of these dimensions have received little attention in prior literature. A key finding is that exogenous emissions pricing (whether through a carbon tax or through the hybrid option) has a number of attractions over pure cap and trade. Beyond helping prevent price volatility and reducing expected policy errors in the face of uncertainties, exogenous pricing helps avoid problematic interactions with other climate policies and helps avoid large wealth transfers to oil exporting countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Lawrence H. Goulder & Andrew Schein, 2013. "Carbon Taxes vs. Cap and Trade: A Critical Review," NBER Working Papers 19338, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19338
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Zhang, Kun & Wang, Qian & Liang, Qiao-Mei & Chen, Hao, 2016. "A bibliometric analysis of research on carbon tax from 1989 to 2014," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 297-310.
    2. Weitzman, Martin L., 2017. "Voting on prices vs. voting on quantities in a World Climate Assembly," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 199-211.
    3. Martin L. Weitzman, 2014. "Can Negotiating a Uniform Carbon Price Help to Internalize the Global Warming Externality?," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 29-49.
    4. Wang, Ke & Wei, Yi-Ming & Huang, Zhimin, 2016. "Potential gains from carbon emissions trading in China: A DEA based estimation on abatement cost savings," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 48-59.
    5. Martin L. Weitzman, 2017. "On a World Climate Assembly and the Social Cost of Carbon," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 84(336), pages 559-586, October.
    6. Martin L. Weitzman, 2015. "Internalizing the Climate Externality: Can a Uniform Price Commitment Help?," Economics of Energy & Environmental Policy, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2).
    7. Murray, Brian & Rivers, Nicholas, 2015. "British Columbia’s revenue-neutral carbon tax: A review of the latest “grand experiment” in environmental policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 674-683.
    8. Manish Pandey & Wenbiao Cai, 2016. "Regulation under Financial Frictions: A Quantitative Analysis of Taxes versus Tradable Permits," Departmental Working Papers 2016-01, The University of Winnipeg, Department of Economics.
    9. Sim, Seung-Gyu & Lin, Hsuan-Chih, 2018. "Competitive dominance of emission trading over Pigouvian taxation in a globalized economy," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 158-161.
    10. Martin L. Weitzman, 2016. "How a Minimum Carbon Price Commitment Might Help to Internalize the Global Warming Externality," NBER Working Papers 22197, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Agustin Redonda, 2016. "Tax Expenditures and Sustainability. An Overview," Discussion Notes 1603, Council on Economic Policies.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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