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Comparing Policies to Combat Emissions Leakage: Border Carbon Adjustments versus Rebates

Carolyn Fischer

Resources for the Future

Alan K. Fox

U.S. International Trade Commission

March 9, 2011

RFF Discussion Paper No. 09-02-REV

We explore conditions determining which anti-leakage policies might be more effective complements to regulation of domestic greenhouse gas emissions. We consider four policies that could be combined with unilateral emissions pricing to counter effects on international competitiveness: a border charge on imports, a border rebate for exports, full border adjustment, and domestic output-based rebating. Each option faces different potential legal hurdles in international trade law; each also has different economic impacts. While all can support competitiveness, none is necessarily effective at reducing global emissions. Nor is it possible to rank the options; effectiveness depends on the relative emissions rates, elasticities of substitution, and consumption volumes. We illustrate these results with simulations for the energy-intensive sectors of three different economies- the United States, Canada, and Europe. Although most controversial, full border adjustment is usually most effective, but output-based rebating for key manufacturing sectors can achieve many of the gains.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 41

Keywords: environmental tax, rebate, border tax adjustment, emissions leakage, climate

JEL Classification: Q2, Q43, H2, D61

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Date posted: February 21, 2009 ; Last revised: May 25, 2014

Suggested Citation

Fischer, Carolyn and Fox, Alan K., Comparing Policies to Combat Emissions Leakage: Border Carbon Adjustments versus Rebates (March 9, 2011). RFF Discussion Paper No. 09-02-REV. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1345928 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1345928

Contact Information

Carolyn Fischer (Contact Author)
Resources for the Future ( email )
1616 P Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States
202-328-5012 (Phone)
202-939-3460 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.rff.org/~fischer
Alan K. Fox
U.S. International Trade Commission ( email )
500 E St SW
Washington, DC 20436
United States
202-205-3267 (Phone)
202-205-2340 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.usitc.gov
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