AbstractCommon views hold that the efficient way to limit warming to a chosen level is to price carbon emissions at a rate that increases exponentially. We show that this Hotelling tax on carbon emissions is actually inefficient. The least-cost policy path takes advantage of the climate system's inertia to delay reducing emissions and allow greater cumulative emissions. The efficient carbon tax follows an inverse-U-shaped path and grows more slowly than the Hotelling tax. Economic models that assume exponentially increasing carbon taxes are overestimating the cost of limiting warming, overestimating the efficient near-term carbon tax, and overvaluing technologies that mature sooner. (JEL H23, Q54, Q58)
American Economic Review – American Economic Association
Published: Oct 1, 2017
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