Emissions targets and the real business cycle: Intensity targets versus caps or taxes

Carolyn Fischer, Michael Springborn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

For reducing greenhouse gas emissions, intensity targets are attracting interest as a flexible mechanism that would better allow for economic growth than emissions caps. For the same expected emissions, however, the economic responses to unexpected productivity shocks differ. Using a real business cycle model, we find that a cap dampens the effects of productivity shocks in the economy on all variables except for the shadow value of the emissions constraint. An emissions tax leads to the same expected outcomes as a cap but with greater volatility. Certainty-equivalent intensity targets maintain higher levels of labor, capital, and output than other policies, with lower expected costs and no more volatility than with no policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-366
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Environmental Economics and Management
Volume62
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011

Keywords

  • Business cycle
  • Cap-and-trade
  • Emissions tax
  • Intensity target

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