Carbon Subsidies, Taxes and Optimal Forest Management
24 Pages Posted: 31 Dec 2003 Last revised: 26 May 2014
Date Written: February 16, 2008
We consider the effect of carbon credit payment schemes on forest owners' land use and harvest decisions. We study two possible credit allocation regimes: one where credits are allocated according to the actual amount of carbon sequestered by the trees on a piece of land, and another where credits are allocated according to the long-run potential to sequester carbon on the land. Using a real options model with uncertain future timber prices, we examine the effect on the timing of harvests and the replanting-abandonment decision. We show that both schemes discourage deforestation. Compensating growers for actual carbon sequestration leads to longer rotation periods between harvests, while basing compensation only on the long-run potential level of sequestration induces shorter rotation periods. The former scheme leads to greater benefits of carbon sequestration at lower cost than the latter scheme. Although inducing moderate levels of sequestration is expensive under both schemes, the cost falls dramatically when the level of payments climbs above some threshold. Indeed, providing the payments are sufficiently generous, carbon credit payment schemes offer an effective means of increasing carbon sequestration.
Keywords: Optimal forest harvest policy, real options, carbon credits
JEL Classification: Q23, Q28, Q15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation