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General Equilibrium Impacts of a Federal Clean Energy Standard

Author

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  • Goulder, Lawrence H.

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • Hafstead, Marc A.C.

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • Williams, Roberton C.

    () (Resources for the Future)

Abstract

Economists have tended to view emissions pricing (e.g., cap and trade or a carbon tax) as the most cost-effective approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This paper offers a different view. Employing analytical and numerically solved general equilibrium models, the paper indicates plausible conditions under which a more conventional form of regulation—namely, the use of a clean energy standard (CES)—is more cost-effective. The models reveal that in a realistic economy with prior taxes on factors of production, the CES distorts factor markets less because it is a smaller implicit tax on factors. This advantage more than offsets the disadvantages of the CES when relatively minor reductions in emissions are called for. Numerical simulations indicate that the cost-effectiveness of the CES is sensitive to what is deemed “clean” electricity. To achieve maximal cost-effectiveness, the CES must offer significant credit to electricity generated from natural gas. Classification-JEL: Q58, Q54, H23

Suggested Citation

  • Goulder, Lawrence H. & Hafstead, Marc A.C. & Williams, Roberton C., 2014. "General Equilibrium Impacts of a Federal Clean Energy Standard," Discussion Papers dp-14-02, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-14-02
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Fullerton, Don & Metcalf, Gilbert E., 2001. "Environmental controls, scarcity rents, and pre-existing distortions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 249-267, May.
    2. Fair, Ray C & Taylor, John B, 1983. "Solution and Maximum Likelihood Estimation of Dynamic Nonlinear Rational Expectations Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 1169-1185, July.
    3. Stephen P. Holland & Jonathan E. Hughes & Christopher R. Knittel, 2009. "Greenhouse Gas Reductions under Low Carbon Fuel Standards?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 106-146, February.
    4. 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.
    5. Don Fullerton & Garth Heutel, 2010. "The General Equilibrium Incidence of Environmental Mandates," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 64-89, August.
    6. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Hafstead, Marc A.C. & Dworsky, Michael, 2010. "Impacts of alternative emissions allowance allocation methods under a federal cap-and-trade program," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 161-181, November.
    7. Lawrence Goulder, 1995. "Environmental taxation and the double dividend: A reader's guide," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 2(2), pages 157-183, August.
    8. Lawrance, Emily C, 1991. "Poverty and the Rate of Time Preference: Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 54-77, February.
    9. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 339-357, April.
    10. Holland, Stephen P., 2012. "Emissions taxes versus intensity standards: Second-best environmental policies with incomplete regulation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 375-387.
    11. Derek Lemoine, 2017. "Escape from Third-Best: Rating Emissions for Intensity Standards," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 67(4), pages 789-821, August.
    12. Ian W.H. Parry & Wallace E. Oates, 2000. "Policy analysis in the presence of distorting taxes," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4), pages 603-613.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    clean energy standard; intensity standard; emissions pricing; climate;

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
    • 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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