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How Should Environmental Policy Respond to Business Cycles? Optimal Policy under Persistent Productivity Shocks

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  • Heutel, Garth

    (University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics)

Abstract

How should environmental policy respond to economic fluctuations caused by persistent productivity shocks? This paper answers that question using a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium real business cycle model that includes a pollution externality. I first estimate the relationship between the cyclical components of carbon dioxide emissions and US GDP and find it to be inelastic. Using this result to calibrate the model, I find that optimal policy allows carbon emissions to be procyclical: increasing during expansions and decreasing during recessions. However, optimal policy dampens the procyclicality of emissions compared to the unregulated case. A price effect from costlier abatement during booms outweighs an income effect of greater demand for clean air. I also model a decentralized economy, where government chooses an emissions tax or quantity restriction and firms and consumers respond. The optimal emissions tax rate and the optimal emissions quota are both procyclical: during recessions, the tax rate and the emissions quota both decrease.

Suggested Citation

  • Heutel, Garth, 2011. "How Should Environmental Policy Respond to Business Cycles? Optimal Policy under Persistent Productivity Shocks," UNCG Economics Working Papers 11-8, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:uncgec:2011_008
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Climate change; Environmental policy;

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • 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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