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Emissions trading and taxes

emission trading

This World Bank research focuses on drivers of greenhouse gas emission and the design of policies and measures for mitigating emissions, with particular emphasis on policies using economic incentives—emissions trading and taxes.

  • International emissions markets
  • Economic impacts of alternative climate change mitigation policies

Contacts:
Govinda Timilsina, gtimilsina@worldbank.org
Donald Larson, dlarson@worldbank.org
 

 

 Research focusResearch outputs 

 
International emissions markets
 

Most developed countries experience higher marginal costs of GHG mitigation whereas developing countries offer relatively lower marginal costs, thereby implying benefits through international or bi-lateral emissions trading.Our research analyzes various issues related to emission trading and the Kyoto mechanisms, particularly the clean development mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol.

Economic impacts of alternative climate change mitigation policies

 
One key criterion when selecting strategies to mitigate climate change, such as a carbon tax or tradable permits, is the economywide impacts of those policy instruments. The economic impacts (e.g., impacts on economic welfare, GDP, international trade) vary significantly depending upon how the revenue generated from those instruments is recycled within the economy.
Macroeconomic models or computable general equilibrium models are used to measure the economywide impacts of those policy instruments. A carbon tax with revenue recycled to cut existing distortionary taxation (e.g., income tax) would be more efficient than a carbon tax with revenues recycled to households as a lump sum transfer or a carbon tax with revenue retained for government spending.

Our research investigates, using general equilibrium models, the economic and environmental impacts of various climate change mitigation policies such as carbon tax, clean development mechanism and green investment.

 
Research outputs

"Cooperation and reciprocity in carbon sequestration contracts,"  Paula Cordero Salas, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 6521, 2013.

This paper studies the role of cooperation and reciprocity on the structure of self-enforcing carbon sequestration contracts. The optimal contract is derived as a result of the optimizing actions of purely self-interested agents, and agents that act according to social or egoistic preferences.

 
"Emissions Trading with Offset Markets and Free Quota Allocations," Knut Einar Rosendahl and Jon Strand, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 6281, 2012.

This paper studies interactions between a "policy bloc's" emissions quota market and an offset market where emissions offsets can be purchased from a non-policy "fringe" of countries (such as for the Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol). Policy-bloc firms enjoy free quota allocations, updated according to either past emissions or past outputs. Both overall abatement and the allocation of given abatement between the policy bloc and the fringe are then inefficient. When the policy-bloc quota and offset markets are fully integrated, firms buying offsets from the fringe, and all quotas and offsets, must be traded at a single price; the policy bloc will either not constrain the offset market whatsoever, or ban offsets completely. These cases occur when free allocation of quotas is less (very) generous, and the offset market delivers large (small) quota amounts. Governments of policy countries would instead prefer to buy offsets directly from the fringe at a price below the policy-bloc quota price. The offset price is then below the marginal damage cost of emissions and the quota price in the policy bloc is above the marginal damage cost. This is also inefficient as the policy bloc, acting as a monopsonist, purchases too few offsets from the fringe.
 

"Macroeconomic and Sectoral Impacts of Climate Change Mitigation in Thailand," G.R. Timilsina, G.R., in eds., R.D. Van den Berg, and O. Feinstein, Evaluating Climate Change and Development, Transaction Publishers, 2009.

 

"Revenue management" effects related to financial flows generated by climate policy," Jon Strand, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 5053, 2009.

Selected low-income countries are likely to benefit from increased access to “carbon finance” —revenue obtained from selling emissions offsets, energy-related foreign investments, and potential financial transfers in future mitigation agreements. Such financial inflows are likely to result in a mix of positive and negative macroeconomic consequences. On the positive side, it’s possible that expanded fiscal space can facilitate better overall public revenue management, and lead to public infrastructure investments that yield higher growth. On the negative side, competitiveness in tradable goods sectors may erode due to unwanted exchange rate appreciation; inflation may grow due to excessive domestic public and private spending; and ascertaining that funds are being productively used may cause governance problems. Carbon finance revenues from offset markets and donor-sponsored programs are likely to be small in the short run, and the macroeconomic impacts manageable. However, as broader-ranging global emissions control mechanisms expand, the macroeconomic consequences they may strain the capacity of many countries to adjust. Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia might be especially vulnerable.

 

"Carbon tax under the Clean Development Mechanism: A unique approach reducing GHG emissions in developing countries," Timilsina G.R., Climate Policy 9(2): 139-54, 2009.

This study examines the economic and environmental implications of a unique Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) scheme in which a non-Annex B country (Thailand) introduces a carbon tax and exports the resulting emission mitigation as certified emission reductions (CERs). A general equilibrium model for Thailand has been developed for analysing this carbon tax-cum-CDM (CT-CDM) policy. The study finds that, unlike a carbon tax policy, the CT-CDM policy could increase economic welfare in Thailand, depending on CER price and schemes of recycling carbon tax- and CERrevenue to the economy. The CT-CDM policy is found to increase economic welfare at a very low CER price ( US55/tCO

 

"Substitution and Technological Change under Carbon C and Trade: Lessons from Europe," T.J. Considine and D. F. Larson, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 4957, 2009.

The use of carbon-intense fuels by the power sector contributes significantly to the greenhouse gas emissions of most countries. For this reason, the sector is often key to initial efforts to regulate emissions. But how long does it take before new regulatory incentives result in a switch to less carbon intense fuels? This study examines fuel switching in electricity production following the introduction of the European Union’s Emissions Trading System, a cap-and-trade regulatory framework for greenhouse gas emissions. The empirical analysis examines the demand for carbon permits, carbon based fuels, and carbon-free energy for 12 European countries using monthly data on fuel use, prices, and electricity generation. A short-run restricted cost function is estimated in which carbon permits, high-carbon fuels, and low-carbon fuels are variable inputs, conditional on quasi-fixed carbon-free energy production from nuclear, hydro, and renewable energy capacity. The results indicate that prices for permits and fuels affect the composition of inputs in a statistically significant way. Even so, the analysis suggests that the industry’s fuel-switching capabilities are limited in the short run as is the scope for introducing new technologies. This is because of the dominant role that past irreversible investments play in determining power-generating capacity. Moreover, the results suggest that, because the capacity for fuel substitution is limited, the impact of carbon emission limits on electricity prices can be significant if fuel prices increase together with carbon permit prices. The estimates suggest that for every 10 percent rise in carbon and fuel prices, the marginal cost of electric power generation increases by 8 percent in the short run. The European experience points to the importance of starting early down a low-carbon path and of policies that introduce flexibility in how emission reductions are achieved.

 

"Carbon Markets, Institutions, Policies, and Research," D. F. Larson, P. Ambrosi, A. Dinar, S. Mahfuzur Rahman, R. Entler, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 4761, 2008.

The scale of investment needed to slow greenhouse gas emissions is larger than governments can manage through transfers. Therefore, climate change policies rely heavily on markets and private capital. This is especially true in the case of the Kyoto Protocol with its provisions for trade and investment in joint projects.

This paper describes institutions and policies important for new carbon markets and explains their origins. Research efforts that explore conceptual aspects of current policy are surveyed along with empirical studies that make predictions about how carbon markets will work and perform. The authors summarize early investment and price outcomes from newly formed markets and point out areas where markets have performed as predicted and areas where markets remain incomplete. Overall the scale of carbon-market investment planned exceeds earlier expectations, but the geographic dispersion of investment is uneven and important opportunities for abatement remain untapped in some sectors, indicating a need for additional research on how investment markets work. How best to promote the development and deployment of new technologies is another promising area for study identified in the paper.

 

"Will Markets Direct Investments under the Kyoto Protocol? Lessons from the Activities Implemented Jointly Pilots," Donald F. Larson and Gunnar Breustedt, Environmental and Resource Economics 43(3): 433-56, 2009. (Based on World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 4131, 2007.)

Under the Kyoto Protocol, countries can meet treaty obligations by investing in projects that reduce or sequester greenhouse gases elsewhere. Prior to ratification, treaty participants agreed to launch country-based pilot projects, referred to collectively as Activities Implemented Jointly (AIJ), to test novel aspects of the project-related provisions. Relying on a 10-year history of projects, the authors investigate the determinants of AIJ investment. Their findings suggest that national political objectives and possibly deeper cultural ties influenced project selection. This characterization differs from the market-based assumptions that underlie well-known estimates of cost-savings related to the Protocol's flexibility mechanisms. The authors conclude that if approaches developed under the AIJ programs to approve projects are retained, benefits from Kyoto's flexibility provisions will be less than those widely anticipated.

 

"A General Equilibrium Analysis of Demand Side Management Programs in the Household Sector under the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol," G.R. Timilsina and R.M. Shrestha, International Journal of Energy Sector Management 2(4): 570-93, 2008.

 

 

"A Review of Carbon Market Policies and Research," D. Larson, P. Ambrosi, A. Dinar, S. Mahfuzur Rahman, and R. Entler, International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics 2(3): 177-236, 2008.

We describe important institutions that shape climate change policies together with a set of key market-reliant instruments. We selectively review the related economic literature, emphasizing empirical studies that assess the efficacy of current policies and the workings of policy-dependent markets. Special attention is given to new carbon finance markets tied to the Kyoto Protocol’s flexibility mechanisms. Promising areas for future research are identified.

 

"A General Equilibrium Analysis of Demand Side Management Programs under the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol," G.R. Timilsina, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 4563, 2008.

This paper analyzes the economic and environmental consequences of a potential demand side management program in Thailand using a general equilibrium model. The program considers replacement of less efficient electrical appliances in the household sector with more efficient counterparts. The study further examines changes in the economic and environmental effects of the program if it is implemented under the clean development mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol, which provides carbon subsidies to the program. The study finds that the demand side management program would increase economic welfare if the ratio of unit cost of electricity savings to price of electricity is 0.4 or lower even in the absence of the clean development mechanism. If the program's ratio of unit cost of electricity savings to price of electricity is greater than 0.4, registration of the program under the clean development mechanism would be needed to achieve positive welfare impacts. The level of welfare impacts would, however, depend on the price of carbon credits the program generates. For a given level of welfare impacts, the registration of the demand side management program under the clean development mechanism would increase the volume of emission reductions.

 

"Alternative Tax Instruments for CO2 Emission Reduction and Effects of Revenue Recycling Schemes," G.R. Timilsina and R.M. Shrestha, Energy Studies Review 15(1):19-48, 2007.

This study examines the roles of revenue recycling schemes for the selection of alternative tax instruments (i.e., carbon-, sulphur-, energy- and output-tax) to reduce CO, emissions to a specified level in Thailand. A static, single period, multi-sectoral computable general equilibrium (CGE) model of the Thai economy has been developed for this purpose. This study finds that the selection of a tax instrument to reduce CO, emissions would be significantly influenced by the scheme to recycle the tax revenue to the economy. If the tax revenue is recycled to finance cuts in the existing labour or indirect tax rates, carbon tax would be more efficient than the sulphur-, energy- and output-taxes to reduce CO2 emissions. On the other hand, if the tax revenue is recycled to households through a lump-sum transfer, sulphur and carbon taxes would be more efficient than energy and output taxes. The ranking between the sulphur and carbon taxes under the lump sum transfer scheme depends on substitution possibility of fossil fuels. Sulphur tax is found superior over carbon tax at the higher substitution possibility between fossil fuels; the reverse is found true at the lower substitution possibility. In all schemes of revenue recycling considered, the output tax is found to be the most costly (i.e., in welfare terms) despite the fact that it generates two to three times higher revenue than the other tax instruments.

 

"The Role of Revenue Recycling Schemes in Environmental Tax Selection: A General Equilibrium Analysis," G.R. Timilsina, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 4388, 2007.

This study examines the roles of revenue recycling schemes for the selection of alternative tax instruments (i.e., carbon-, sulphur-, energy- and output-tax) to reduce CO2 emissions to a specified level in Thailand. A static, single period, multi-sectoral computable general equilibrium (CGE) model of the Thai economy has been developed for this purpose. This study finds that the selection of a tax instrument to reduce CO2 emissions would be significantly influenced by the scheme to recycle the tax revenue to the economy. If the tax revenue is recycled to finance cuts in the existing labour or indirect tax rates, carbon tax would be more efficient than the sulphur-, energy- and output-taxes to reduce CO2 emissions. On the other hand, if the tax revenue is recycled to households through a lump-sum transfer, sulphur and carbon taxes would be more efficient than energy and output taxes. The ranking between the sulphur and carbon taxes under the lump sum transfer scheme depends on substitution possibility of fossil fuels. Sulphur tax is found superior over carbon tax at the higher substitution possibility between fossil fuels; the reverse is found true at the lower substitution possibility. In all schemes of revenue recycling considered, the output tax is found to be the most costly (i.e., in welfare terms) despite the fact that it generates two to three times higher revenue than the other tax instruments.

 

"Will markets direct investments under the Kyoto Protocol?" D. Larson and G. Breustedt, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 4131, 2007.

Relying on a ten-year history of jointly implemented projects, this study investigated the determinants of AIJ investment. Findings suggest that national political objectives and possibly deeper cultural ties influenced project selection. This characterization differs from the market-based assumptions that underlie well-known estimates of cost-savings related to the Protocol’s flexibility mechanisms. It was estimated that if approaches developed under the AIJ programs to approve projects are retained, benefits from Kyoto’s flexibility provisions will be less than those widely anticipated.




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