IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Environmental policy and time consistency - emissions taxes and emissions trading

Listed author(s):
  • Kennedy, Peter W.
  • Laplante, Benoit
Registered author(s):

    The authors examine policy problems related to the use of emissions taxes, and emissions trading, two market-based instruments for controlling pollution by getting regulated firms to adopt cleaner technologies. By attaching an explicit price to emissions, these instruments give firms an incentive to continually reduce their volume of emissions. Command, and-control emissions standards create incentives to adopt cleaner technologies only up to the point where the standards are no longer binding (at which point the shadow price on emissions falls to zero). But the ongoing incentives created by the market-based instruments are not necessarily right, either. Time-consistency constraints on the setting of these instruments limit the regulator's ability toset policies that lead to efficiency in adopting technology options. After examining the time-consistency properties of a Pigouvian emissions tax, and of the emissions trading, the authors find that: 1) If damage is linear, efficiency in adopting technologies involves either universal adoption of the new technology, or universal retention of the old technology, depending on the cost of adoption. The first best tax policy, and the first-best permit-supply policy are both time-consistent under these conditions. 2) If damage is strictly convex, efficiency may require partial adoption of the new technology. In this case, the first-best tax policy is not time-consistent, and the tax rate must be adjusted after adoption has taken place (ratcheting). Ratcheting will induce an efficient equilibrium if there is a large number of firms. If there are relatively few firms, ratcheting creates too many incentives to adopt the new technology. 3) The first-best supply policy is time-consistent if there is a large number of firms. If there are relatively few firms, the first-best supply policy may not be time-consistent, and the regulator must ratchet the supply of permits. With this policy, there are not enough incentives for firms to adopt the new technology. The results do not strongly favor one policy instrument over the other, but if the point of an emissions trading program is to increase technological efficiency, it is necessary to continually adjust the supply of permits in response to technological change, even when the damage is linear. This continual adjustment is not needed for an emissions tax when damage is linear, which may give emissions taxes an advantage over emissions trading.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2351.

    in new window

    Date of creation: 31 May 2000
    Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2351
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    1818 H Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20433

    Phone: (202) 477-1234
    Web page:

    More information through EDIRC

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    in new window

    1. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1996. "Pollution permits and compliance strategies," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1-2), pages 85-125, October.
    2. J-J. Laffont & J. Tirole, 1994. "A Note on Environmental Innovation," Working papers 95-10, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    3. Jung, Chulho & Krutilla, Kerry & Boyd, Roy, 1996. "Incentives for Advanced Pollution Abatement Technology at the Industry Level: An Evaluation of Policy Alternatives," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 95-111, January.
    4. N/A, 1996. "Note:," Foreign Trade Review, , vol. 31(1-2), pages 1-1, January.
    5. Milliman, Scott R. & Prince, Raymond, 1989. "Firm incentives to promote technological change in pollution control," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 247-265, November.
    6. Malueg, David A., 1989. "Emission credit trading and the incentive to adopt new pollution abatement technology," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 52-57, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2351. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.