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Untapped Fossil Fuel and the Green Paradox: A classroom calibration of the optimal carbon tax

A classroom model of global warming, fossil fuel depletion and the optimal carbon tax is formulated and calibrated. It features iso-elastic fossil fuel demand, stock-dependent fossil fuel extraction costs, an exogenous interest rate and no decay of the atmospheric stock of carbon. The optimal carbon tax reduces emissions from burning fossil fuel, both in the short and medium run. Furthermore, it brings forward the date that renewables take over from fossil fuel and encourages the market to keep more fossil fuel locked up. A renewables subsidy induces faster fossil fuel extraction and thus accelerates global warming during the fossil fuel phase, but brings forward the carbon-free era, locks up more fossil fuel reserves and thus ultimately curbs cumulative carbon emissions and global warming. For relatively large subsidies social welfare is more likely to fall as the economic costs rises more than proportionally with the size of the subsidy. Our calibration suggests that such subsidies are not a good second-best climate policy.

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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number OxCarre Research Paper 119.

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Date of creation: 25 Jul 2013
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:oxcarre-research-paper-119
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  1. Frederick Van der Ploeg & Cees A. Withagen, 2010. "Is There Really a Green Paradox?," CESifo Working Paper Series 2963, CESifo Group Munich.
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  8. Hanemann, William Michael, 2008. "What is the economic cost of climate change?," CUDARE Working Paper Series 1071, University of California at Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy.
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  12. Frederick Ploeg & Cees Withagen, 2014. "Growth, Renewables, And The Optimal Carbon Tax," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 55, pages 283-311, 02.
  13. Hübler, Michael & Baumstark, Lavinia & Leimbach, Marian & Edenhofer, Ottmar & Bauer, Nico, 2012. "An integrated assessment model with endogenous growth," ZEW Discussion Papers 12-054, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
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