Costs of Alternative Environmental Policy Instruments in the Presence of Industry Compensation Requirements

A.L. Bovenberg, L.H. Goulder, M.R. Jacobson

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This paper explores how the costs of meeting given aggregate targets for pollution emissions change with the imposition of the requirement that key pollution-related industries be compensated for potential losses of profit from the pollution regulation.Using analytically and numerically solved equilibrium models, we compare the incidence and costs of emissions taxes, fuel (intermediate input) taxes, performance standards and mandated technologies in the absence and presence of this compensation requirement.Compensation is provided either through industry tax credits or industry-specific cuts in capital tax rates.We decompose the added costs from the compensation requirement into (1) an increase in "intrinsic abatement cost," reflecting a lowered efficiency of pollution abatement, and (2) a "lump-sum compensation cost" that captures the efficiency costs of financing the compensation.The compensation requirement affects these components differently, depending on the policy instrument involved and the required extent of pollution abatement.As a result, it can change the cost-rankings of the different instruments.In particular, when compensation is provided through tax credits, the lump-sum compensation cost is higher under the emissions tax than under the command-andcontrol policies (performance standards and mandated technologies) - a reflection of the higher compensation requirements under the emissions tax.When the required pollution reduction is modest, imposing the compensation requirement causes the emissions tax to lose its status as the least costly instrument and to become more costly than command and control policies.In contrast, when required abatement is extensive, the emissions tax again becomes the most-cost effective instrument because of its advantages in terms of lower intrinsic abatement cost.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
Number of pages54
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper


  • environmental instrument choice
  • pollution control
  • compensation requirements
  • emissions abatement costs


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