Emissions Trading, an Exercise in Reforming Pollution Policy

By T. H. Tietenberg | Go to book overview

5 / Distributing the Financial Burden

Emissions trading approaches to pollution control involve two phases: (1) an initial allocation of control responsibility and (2) an organized market or series of trading rules which allow surplus emission or concentration reduction credits to be transferred from one source to another. Defining the baseline control responsibility, the focus of this chapter, is important not only because it has a major effect on the distribution of the financial burden associated with pollution control, but also because under the proper conditions it offers the control authority a great deal of flexibility in how it distributes that burden without jeopardizing the cost effectiveness of the program.

This distributional flexibility is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, it allows the control authority to pursue a just or fair distribution of the costs and benefits. On the other hand, the distribution of the financial burden can become a political struggle in and of itself, with a majority coalition channeling the lion's share of the benefits to itself and a disproportionate share of the costs to a reluctant minority.

This chapter defines and explains the possibilities for affecting the distribution of financial burden with a transferable permit system, and uses this framework to understand the current emissions trading program as well as to examine alternatives to it. Following a discussion of the existing estimates of the costs of the command-and-control approach, a survey of the empirical evidence is used to analyze the possible ways permit systems could be used to affect this cost burden. Finally, the emissions trading program is evaluated and further reforms are proposed.

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Emissions Trading, an Exercise in Reforming Pollution Policy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables ix
  • Preface xi
  • Abbreviations xiv
  • 1 / Introduction 1
  • References 13
  • 2 - /The Conceptual Framework 14
  • References 35
  • 3 - The Potential For Cost Savings 38
  • Summary 56
  • 4 - The Spatial Dimension 60
  • Summary 89
  • 5 - Distributing The Financial Burden 93
  • Summary 120
  • References 123
  • 6 - Market Power 125
  • Summary 145
  • 7 - The Temporal Dimension 149
  • Summary 165
  • 8 - Enforcement 168
  • Summary 184
  • 9 - Evaluation and Proposals For Further Reform 188
  • Concluding Comments 213
  • References 214
  • Index 217
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