In or out: efficient inclusion of installations in an emissions trading scheme?

Betz, Regina; Sanderson, Todd; Ancev, Tihomir
April 2010
Journal of Regulatory Economics;Apr2010, Vol. 37 Issue 2, p162
Academic Journal
Regulators around the world are currently considering national emissions trading schemes (ETS) as cost-effective instruments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In the process, they are confronted with numerous design issues. The coverage of installations in an ETS is one such issue. While “blanket coverage” that includes all industrial emitters of greenhouse gases in an economy has some intuitive appeal, and seems equitable, it does not take into full account all the costs related to the extent of coverage. This paper shows that an alternative approach of “partial coverage” based on benefit–cost analysis can achieve the same emission reduction outcome at lower social cost. The approach is based on maximizing the benefits from inclusion of installations in an ETS at the same time as taking all relevant transaction costs into account. A broad definition of transaction costs is used, which covers the regulatory costs to the government as well as regulatory costs imposed on covered installations. We find that particularly for relatively modest emissions reduction targets the cost savings of a “partial coverage” compared to “blanket coverage” are significant.


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