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Public Interest vs. Interest Groups: Allowance Allocation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme


  • Anger, Niels
  • Böhringer, Christoph
  • Oberndorfer, Ulrich


This paper presents a political-economy analysis of allowance allocation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). A common-agency model suggests that a politicalsupport maximizing government considers the preferences of sectoral interest groups besides public interest when allocating emissions permits. In the stylized model, industries represented by more powerful lobby groups face a lower regulatory burden, which for sufficiently high lobbying power leads to an inefficient emissions regulation. An empirical analysis of the first trading phase of the EU ETS corroborates our theoretical prediction for a cross-section of German firms, but also shows that the political-economy determinants of permit allocation depend on firm characteristics. We find that large carbon emitters that were heavily exposed to emissions regulation and simultaneously represented by powerful interest groups received higher levels of emissions allowances. In contrast, industrial lobbying power stand-alone or threats of potential worker layoffs did not exert a significant influence on the EU ETS allocation process.

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  • Anger, Niels & Böhringer, Christoph & Oberndorfer, Ulrich, 2008. "Public Interest vs. Interest Groups: Allowance Allocation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme," ZEW Discussion Papers 08-023, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:7295

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. Kirchgassner, Gebhard & Schneider, Friedrich, 2003. "On the Political Economy of Environmental Policy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 115(3-4), pages 369-396, June.
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    12. Julien A. Hanoteau, 2003. "Lobbying for Emissions Allowances: A New Perspective on the Political Economy of the US Acid Rain Program," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, vol. 93(1), pages 289-314, January-F.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sebastian Strunz, Erik Gawel, and Paul Lehmann, 2015. "Towards a general Europeanization of EU Member States energy policies?," Economics of Energy & Environmental Policy, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2).
    2. Mizrach, Bruce, 2012. "Integration of the global carbon markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 335-349.
    3. Böhringer, Christoph & Rosendahl, Knut Einar, 2009. "Strategic partitioning of emission allowances under the EU Emission Trading Scheme," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 182-197, August.
    4. Gawel, Erik & Lehmann, Paul & Purkus, Alexandra & Söderholm, Patrik & Witte, Katherina, 2017. "Rationales for technology-specific RES support and their relevance for German policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 16-26.
    5. Christoph Böhringer, 2013. "Two Decades of European Climate Policy: A Critical Appraisal," ZenTra Working Papers in Transnational Studies 21 / 2013, ZenTra - Center for Transnational Studies, revised Nov 2013.
    6. Hieronymi, Philipp & Schüller, David, 2015. "The Clean-Development Mechanism, stochastic permit prices and energy investments," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 25-36.

    More about this item


    Emissions trading; interest groups; regression analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy
    • C10 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - General

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