Options for Returning the Value of CO2 Emissions Allowances to Households

Resources for the Future Discussion Paper No. 11-03

44 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2011  

Dallas Burtraw

Resources for the Future

Ian W. H. Parry

Resources for the Future

Date Written: February 22, 2011

Abstract

This paper examines alternative ways that the value of CO2 emissions allowances created under cap-and-trade policy could be returned to households. One approach (based on principles of economic efficiency) is effectively a "tax shift" that would use revenues from an auction of CO2 emissions allowances to reduce preexisting distortionary taxes. A second approach (based on principles of property rights for common-pool resources), known as cap-and-dividend, would refund allowance value as equal lump-sum cash transfers to households. Economic theory suggests (with some caveats) that a tax shift would be considerably less costly to the overall economy. In contrast, cap-and-dividend provides ample compensation for low-income households, though it appears to be more costly than other approaches, including perhaps well-designed regulatory policies. A dividend approach might be combined with other policies to provide incentives for households to invest in energy-efficient technologies and thereby lower the costs of the carbon policy.

Keywords: cap-and-trade, auction tax shift, revenue recycling, tax interaction, dividends

JEL Classification: H23, Q54, Q58

Suggested Citation

Burtraw, Dallas and Parry, Ian W. H., Options for Returning the Value of CO2 Emissions Allowances to Households (February 22, 2011). Resources for the Future Discussion Paper No. 11-03. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1767411 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1767411

Dallas Burtraw (Contact Author)

Resources for the Future ( email )

1616 P Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
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202-328-5087 (Phone)

Ian W. H. Parry

Resources for the Future ( email )

1616 P Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States
202-328-5151 (Phone)
202-939-3460 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.rff.org/~parry

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