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The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy

Editor-in-Chief: Jürges, Hendrik / Ludwig, Sandra

Ed. by Auriol , Emmanuelle / Brunner, Johann / Fleck, Robert / Friebel, Guido / Requate, Till / Tsui, Kevin / Wichardt, Philipp / Zulehner, Christine

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What are the Costs of Meeting Distributional Objectives for Climate Policy?

Ian W. H. Parry1 / Roberton C. Williams III2

1Resources for the Future,

2University of Maryland, Resources for the Future, and NBER,

Citation Information: The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy. Volume 10, Issue 2, ISSN (Online) 1935-1682, DOI: 10.2202/1935-1682.2552, December 2010

Publication History

Published Online:
2010-12-14

Abstract

This paper develops an analytical model to quantify the costs and distributional effects of various fiscal options for allocating the large rents created under proposed cap-and-trade programs to reduce domestic, energy-related CO2 emissions. The trade-off between cost effectiveness and distribution is striking. The welfare costs of different policies, accounting for linkages with the broader fiscal system, range from negative $6 billion/year to a positive $53 billion/year in 2020 (or from -$12 to almost $100 per ton of CO2 reductions). The least costly policy involves auctioning all allowances with revenues used to cut income taxes, while the most costly policies involve recycling revenues in lump-sum dividends or grandfathering emissions allowances. The least costly policy is regressive, however, while the dividend policy is progressive. Grandfathering permits is both costly and regressive. A distribution-neutral policy entails costs of $18 to $42 per ton.

Keywords: cap-and-trade; welfare cost; distributional incidence; revenue-recycling

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