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California’s New Gold: A Primer on the Use of Allowance Value Created under the CO2 Cap-and-Trade Program


  • Burtraw, Dallas

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • McLaughlin, David
  • Szambelan, Sarah Jo


California will enact an economy wide cap-and-trade program on CO2. Estimates of the value of tradable emissions allowances in the first year range from roughly $2.6 to $7.8 billion, when electricity and industry are covered under the program. Those sectors receive most of their allowances for free; electricity sector allowance value is directed to the benefit of ratepayers. In the first year a fraction of allowances, mostly with future year vintage, will be sold through an auction with a value of roughly $0.6 to $1.8 billion. That revenue will be returned to the California economy through appropriation by the legislature. Allowance auction revenue will grow five-fold in 2015 when transportation and natural gas are included. To whom does this revenue belong? This is the key unresolved issue in the design of the California program.

Suggested Citation

  • Burtraw, Dallas & McLaughlin, David & Szambelan, Sarah Jo, 2012. "California’s New Gold: A Primer on the Use of Allowance Value Created under the CO2 Cap-and-Trade Program," Discussion Papers dp-12-23, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-12-23

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dallas Burtraw & Karen Palmer, 2008. "Compensation rules for climate policy in the electricity sector," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(4), pages 819-847.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hong, Zhaofu & Chu, Chengbin & Yu, Yugang, 2016. "Dual-mode production planning for manufacturing with emission constraints," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 251(1), pages 96-106.
    2. Garnache, Cloé & Mérel, Pierre R. & Lee, Juhwan & Six, Johan, 2017. "The social costs of second-best policies: Evidence from agricultural GHG mitigation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 39-73.

    More about this item


    cap-and-trade; allocation; auction; Air Resources Board;

    JEL classification:

    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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