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Moving U.S. Climate Policy Forward: Are Carbon Taxes the Only Good Alternative?

  • Parry, Ian W.H.

    ()

    (Resources for the Future)

  • Williams, Roberton C.

    ()

    (Resources for the Future)

This paper estimates the welfare costs of the main medium-term options for significantly reducing U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, including carbon taxes and cap-and-trade systems applied economy-wide and to the power sector only, and an emissions rate standard for power generation. The key theme is that welfare costs depend importantly on how policies interact with distortions in the economy created by the broader fiscal system. If allowance rent is not used to increase economic efficiency, economy-wide cap-and-trade systems perform the worst on cost-effectiveness grounds. In contrast, if revenues are used to substitute for distortionary income taxes (either directly, or indirectly through deficit reduction), economy-wide carbon taxes (or auctioned allowance systems) may have (slightly) negative costs. The bottom line is that revenues or rents created under economy-wide, market-based carbon policies must be used to increase economic efficiency to ensure that these instruments are more cost-effective than regulatory or sectoral approaches.

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Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-11-02.

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Date of creation: 22 Feb 2011
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Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-11-02
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  1. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Parry, Ian W. H. & Williams III, Roberton C. & Burtraw, Dallas, 1999. "The cost-effectiveness of alternative instruments for environmental protection in a second-best setting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 329-360, June.
  2. Parry, Ian W H & Pizer, William A & Fischer, Carolyn, 2003. "How Large Are the Welfare Gains from Technological Innovation Induced by Environmental Policies?," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 237-55, May.
  3. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz & Ladoux, Norbert, 2003. "Environmental taxes with heterogeneous consumers: an application to energy consumption in France," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2791-2815, December.
  4. Parry Ian W. H., 1995. "Pollution Taxes and Revenue Recycling," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages S64-S77, November.
  5. S. Paltsev & J. Reilly & H. Jacoby & A. Gurgel & G. Metcalf & A. Sokolov & J. Holak, 2007. "Assessment of U.S. Cap-and-Trade Proposals," Working Papers 0705, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.
  6. Parry, Ian W. H. & Bento, Antonio M., 2000. "Tax Deductions, Environmental Policy, and the "Double Dividend" Hypothesis," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 67-96, January.
  7. Emmanuel Saez & Joel B. Slemrod & Seth H. Giertz, 2009. "The Elasticity of Taxable Income with Respect to Marginal Tax Rates: A Critical Review," NBER Working Papers 15012, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Ian W.H. Parry & Roberton C. Williams III, 2010. "What Are the Costs of Meeting Distributional Objectives for Climate Policy?," NBER Working Papers 16486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Williams, Roberton III, 2002. "Environmental Tax Interactions when Pollution Affects Health or Productivity," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 261-270, September.
  10. Fell, Harrison & MacKenzie, Ian A. & Pizer, William A., 2012. "Prices versus quantities versus bankable quantities," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 607-623.
  11. Goulder Lawrence H., 1995. "Effects of Carbon Taxes in an Economy with Prior Tax Distortions: An Intertemporal General Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 271-297, November.
  12. Louis Kaplow, 2004. "On the (Ir)Relevance of Distribution and Labor Supply Distortion to Government Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(4), pages 159-175, Fall.
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