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Two World Views on Carbon Revenues

  • Burtraw, Dallas


    (Resources for the Future)

  • Sekar, Samantha


    (Resources for the Future)

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    The introduction of a price on carbon dioxide is expected to be more efficient than prescriptive regulation. It also instantiates substantial economic value. Initially programs allocated this value to incumbent firms (grandfathering), but the growing movement toward auctioning or emissions fees makes carbon revenues into a payment for environmental services. This paper asks, to whom should this payment accrue? If the atmosphere resource, as a common property resource, is viewed as the property of government, then the decision of how to use the revenue can be viewed as a fiscal problem, and efficiency considerations dominate. If the atmosphere is viewed as held in common, then the revenue might be considered compensation to owners and delivered as payment to individuals. This decision has efficiency and distributional consequences that affect the political economy and the likelihood and durability of climate policy. We summarize trends among six existing carbon-pricing programs.

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    Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-13-32.

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    Date of creation: 10 Oct 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-13-32
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    1. Ken Binmore & Paul Klemperer, 2001. "The Biggest Auction Ever: the Sale of the British 3G Telecom Licenses," Economics Papers 2002-W4, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford, revised 01 Sep 2001.
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    3. Porter, David & Rassenti, Stephen & Shobe, William & Smith, Vernon & Winn, Abel, 2009. "The design, testing and implementation of Virginia's NOx allowance auction," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 190-200, February.
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    8. Matthew Riddle & James Boyce, 2007. "Cap and Dividend: How to Curb Global Warming while Protecting the Incomes of American Families," Working Papers wp150, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    9. John Pezzey & Andrew Park, 1998. "Reflections on the Double Dividend Debate," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 11(3), pages 539-555, April.
    10. A. Lans Bovenberg & Lawrence H. Goulder, 2001. "Environmental Taxation and Regulation," NBER Working Papers 8458, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Colin F. Camerer & Howard Kunreuther, 1989. "Decision processes for low probability events: Policy implications," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(4), pages 565-592.
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    13. Polinsky, A Mitchell, 1972. "Probabilistic Compensation Criteria," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 86(3), pages 407-25, August.
    14. Burtraw, Dallas & Sweeney, Richard & Walls, Margaret, 2009. "The Incidence of U.S. Climate Policy: Alternative Uses of Revenues from a Cap-and-Trade Auction," Discussion Papers dp-09-17-rev, Resources For the Future.
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