Three Essays on the Economics of Climate Change

Title: Three Essays on the Economics of Climate Change
Authors: Arif, Faisal
Date: 2012
Abstract: Thesis Abstract: Chapter I: Regional burden sharing of GHG mitigation policies – A Canadian perspective. The distribution of the burden of cost arising from the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is a contentious issue in policy discussions; more so among regional jurisdictions in the federalist countries with decentralized authorities over environmental regulations. In this setting, often the policy discussions are focused on the distribution of regional emission reduction targets that, in turn, entails negotiations over the distribution of the scarcity rents and the regional transfers of wealth. The allocation of regional emission entitlements is thus a key factor that could hinder the political feasibility of a national GHG mitigation policy. In this paper, we build a multi-region computable general equilibrium (CGE) model of the Canadian economy to assess the implications of different burden sharing rules governing the national GHG abatement policy with a cap-and-trade system of emission permits. In addition to assessing the impacts of traditional regional emissions allocation rules that involve intra-regional transfers of wealth, we consider a particular emission allocation that avoids such transfers, which may be a more palatable option given the context of likely fierce negotiations over the issue. Our results indicate to differing outcomes depending on the allocation policy in use. The CGE framework is also able to shed light on the transmission mechanisms that drive the results underlying the policy options. Chapter II: Endogenous technological change and emission allowances. Given the imminent threat of global warming due to GHG emissions, a number of emission mitigation policies have been proposed in the literature. However, they generally suffer from the classical equity-efficiency trade-off. High costs from equity concerns often render environmental policies politically unattractive and thus hard to implement. Recent advancement in the climate policy modeling literature that incorporates endogenous technological change (ETC) into the framework can potentially bring new insights into this debate. Using an inter-temporal, multi-sector CGE approach with ETC incorporated into the framework, this paper builds a model that focuses on the equity-efficiency debate for the policymakers. Canada is chosen as the country of investigation for this purpose. The paper provides a new welfare ranking of four permit allocation policies that address the equity-efficiency trade-off. In a second-best setting with pre-existing distortions, output-based allocation (OBA) of emission permits is compared to three other policy options: (i) an emissions trading system with grandfathered allocation (GFA), (ii) an auction permit trading system where permit revenue is recycled to lower payroll taxes (RPT), and (iii) a hybrid of OBA and R&D subsidy (O-R&D). We find that adapting OBA, as well as O-R&D, is welfare improving over GFA. The implicit output subsidy, entailed in the OBA policy, mitigates against the rising cost effect in the GFA policy. This is reinforced through added investment incentive in R&D when ETC in incorporated into the framework. With O-R&D, since the R&D subsidy corrects for market imperfections in the knowledge accumulation process, the effect is further bolstered, culminating into mitigation of uneven distributional outcome for energy-intensive industries as a whole. Contrary to previous results, we also find that, in terms of the welfare metric, OBA unequivocally improves the distributional outcome across sectors as compared to the RPT policy. Inclusion of ETC also unequivocally generates a higher welfare ranking for all permit policy schemes. Chapter III: Emission permit banking and induced technological change. This paper attempts to undertake an exploratory research by integrating two themes in the emission mitigation policy literature, which include: the inter-temporal emission permit banking and borrowing and the role of induced technological change in emission mitigation. Using a simple optimal control approach, we construct a unified framework that evaluates the optimal path of emissions and the optimal trajectory of permit price when both inter-temporal banking and borrowing of permits and the effects of induced technological change (ITC) are present. We find that ITC leads to a declining emission trajectory over time. The effect of ITC on the optimal permit price path, however, is ambiguous and critically depends on the extent of marginal cost saving that emanates from emission-saving technological innovation.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -