Abuse of EU Emissions Trading for Tacit Collusion

Ehrhart, Karl-Martin; Hoppe, Christian; Löschel, Ralf
November 2008
Environmental & Resource Economics;Nov2008, Vol. 41 Issue 3, p347
Academic Journal
In this paper, we show that loopholes in EU emissions trading law foster tacit collusion that impacts oligopolistic product markets. The abuses originate from the covert misuse of EU emissions trading institutions, such as pooling or project-based mechanisms. We analyse two types of these loopholes by means of game theoretical methods to show how oligopolistic firms establish output restrictions, even if those firms are price takers on the~permit market (which might actually be the case for the majority of obligated firms in the EU). The identified misuse of emissions trading law increases firms’ profits, decreases the consumers’ surplus and has negative effects on social welfare for specified parameter ranges. Consequently, public authorities should not allow emissions trading’s overall good reputation—based upon its efficient abatement of pollution—to blind them to options in European emissions trading legislation that would eventually restrict competition.


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