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Precautionary Climate Change Policies and Optimal Redistribution

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  • Bas Jacobs
  • Rick van der Ploeg

Abstract

We analyse optimal carbon taxes, optimal redistribution within and between non-overlapping generations, and optimal spending levels on climate abatement and adaptation. A positive probability of unexpected large increases in CO2 emissions results in a lower discount rate for global warming damages. More prudent governments set higher carbon taxes and spend more on abatement and sacrifice intra-generational for inter-generational redistribution. As long as households spend a constant fraction of their income on polluting goods, the carbon tax is not used for redistribution and is set at the modified Pigouvian rate, which is higher than the Pigouvian rate if governments are prudent. However, the carbon tax is set below the modified Pigouvian rate if poor households spend relatively more on polluting goods than rich households (Stone-Geary preferences). Policy simulations give insights into the effects of changes in the probability of climate disaster, degrees of intra- and inter-generational inequality aversion, ease of substitution between clean and dirty goods, elasticity of labour supply, productivity of abatement and adaptation, population growth and economic growth on the rates of discount, inequality, global warming and social welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Bas Jacobs & Rick van der Ploeg, 2010. "Precautionary Climate Change Policies and Optimal Redistribution," OxCarre Working Papers 049, Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:oxcrwp:049
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    File URL: http://www.oxcarre.ox.ac.uk/images/stories/papers/ResearchPapers/oxcarrerp201049.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gierlinger, Johannes & Gollier, Christian, 2008. "Socially Efficient Discounting under Ambiguity Aversion," IDEI Working Papers 561, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    2. Thomas Sterner & U. Martin Persson, 2008. "An Even Sterner Review: Introducing Relative Prices into the Discounting Debate," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 2(1), pages 61-76, Winter.
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    4. Louis Kaplow, 2006. "Optimal Control of Externalities in the Presence of Income Taxation," NBER Working Papers 12339, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Hans-Werner Sinn, 2008. "Public policies against global warming: a supply side approach," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 15(4), pages 360-394, August.
    6. Martin L. Weitzman, 2009. "On Modeling and Interpreting the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 1-19, February.
    7. W. J. Corlett & D. C. Hague, 1953. "Complementarity and the Excess Burden of Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(1), pages 21-30.
    8. Laroque, Guy R., 2005. "Indirect taxation is superfluous under separability and taste homogeneity: a simple proof," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 141-144, April.
    9. Stern, N. H., 1976. "On the specification of models of optimum income taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1-2), pages 123-162.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Patrick Laurency & Dirk Schindler, 2011. "International Climate Agreements, Cost Reductions and Convergence of Partisan Politics," CESifo Working Paper Series 3591, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Jacobs, Bas & de Mooij, Ruud A., 2015. "Pigou meets Mirrlees: On the irrelevance of tax distortions for the second-best Pigouvian tax," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 90-108.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    global warming; intra-generational and inter-generational redistribution; equally-distributed-equivalent utility; social discount rate; prudence; carbon tax; income tax; CO2 abatement; climate adaptation; non-homothetic preferences.;

    JEL classification:

    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • 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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