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Mr. Nicolas Arregui and Ian Parry
The UK has pledged to cut greenhouse gases 57 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, to be emisisons neutral by 2050, and to phase out internal combustion engine vehicles by 2030. Much progress has been made, but fully achieving these ambitious objectives with the current policy framework will be challenging as it involves multiple and overlapping pricing schemes with significant sectoral differences in carbon prices and may be difficult to scale up on political and administrative grounds. This paper discusses an alternative framework consisting of: (i) a comprehensive carbon price (ideally a tax) rising to at least £60 (US $75) per ton by 2030; and (ii) reinforcing sectoral policies, most importantly feebates for the transport, industrial, and building sectors. This framework could implement mitigation targets, while limiting burdens on households and firms to enhance acceptability, and still raise revenues of 0.8 percent of GDP in 2030. The UK could also leverage its COP26 presidency to promote dialogue on international carbon price floors and pricing of international transport emissions.
Nicoletta Batini, Ian Parry, and Mr. Philippe Wingender
Denmark has a highly ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 70 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. While there is general agreement that carbon pricing should be the centerpiece of Denmark’s mitigation strategy, pricing needs to be effective, address equity and leakage concerns, and be reinforced by additional measures at the sectoral level. The strategy Denmark develops can be a good prototype for others to follow. This paper discusses mechanisms to scale up domestic carbon pricing, compensate households, and possibly combine pricing with a border carbon adjustment. It also recommends the use of revenue-neutral feebate schemes to strengthen mitigation incentives, particularly for transportation and agriculture, fisheries and forestry, though these schemes could also be applied more widely.
Ian W.H. Parry and Victor Mylonas
The pan-Canadian approach to carbon pricing, announced in October 2016, ensures that carbon pricing applies throughout Canada in 2018, with increasing stringency over time to reduce emissions. Canadian provinces and territories have the flexibility to either implement an explicit price-based system—with a minimum price of CAN $10 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2018, increasing to CAN $50 per tonne by 2022—or an equivalently scaled emissions trading system. This paper discusses the rationale for, and design of, the price floor requirement; its (provincial-level) environmental, fiscal, and economic welfare impacts; monitoring issues; and (national-level) incidence. The general conclusion is that the welfare costs and implementation issues are manageable, and pricing provides significant new revenues. A challenge is that the floor price by itself appears well short of what will be needed by 2030 for Canada’s Paris Agreement pledge.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
This article presents an overview of the life of Richard Layard, who believes that the basic purpose of economics is the maximization of happiness and well-being. As director of the Wellbeing Programme at the London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance, Layard focuses on the study of happiness. Layard was a distinguished labor economist long before he turned his attention to happiness. He is best known for his research in the 1980s on unemployment and for his advocacy of policies to support unemployed people on the condition that they try to find work. This “welfare to work” approach became popular in parts of continental Europe and was a mainstay of British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s economic program. Layard’s other current preoccupation is climate change. He is one of the drivers of the Global Apollo Program, a project to make renewable energy cheaper than fossil fuels within 10 years through publicly funded, internationally coordinated research and innovation.
International Monetary Fund
The Fund has a role to play in helping its members address those challenges of climate change for which fiscal and macroeconomic policies are an important component of the appropriate policy response. The greenhouse gas mitigation pledges submitted by over 160 countries ahead of the pivotal Climate Conference in Paris in December represent an important step by the international community towards containing the extent of global warming. Strategies for reducing emissions will reflect countries’ differing initial positions, political constraints and circumstances. Carbon pricing can, however, play a critical role in meeting in the most efficient and effective way the commitments that countries are now entering into; it can also raise substantial revenues that can be used to reduce other, more distorting taxes. Through its incentive effects, carbon pricing will also help mobilize private finance for mitigation activities and spur the innovation needed to address climate challenges. Finance ministries have a key role to play in promoting and implementing these policies and ensuring efficient use of the revenue raised. The process of climate change is set to have a significant economic impact on many countries, with a large number of lower income countries being particularly at risk. Macroeconomic policies in these countries will need to be calibrated to accommodate more frequent weather shocks, including by building policy space to respond to shocks; infrastructure will need to be upgraded to enhance economic resilience. It will be important that developing countries seeking to make these adaptations have access to sufficient financial support on generous terms. Financial markets will play an important role in helping economic agents and governments in coping with climate change-induced shocks. And heightened climate vulnerabilities and the structural adjustments associated with a shift towards a low-carbon economy over the medium-term will have important implications for financial institutions and financial stability. This paper identifies areas in which the Fund has a contribution to make in supporting its members deal with the macroeconomic challenges of climate change, consistent with national circumstances. It draws on materials contained in a forthcoming Staff Discussion Note (Farid et al. 2015) and has benefited from the discussions at informal Board meetings on IMF work on climate change held on September 30 and November 24, 2015.
Ian W.H. Parry, Mr. Chandara Veung, and Mr. Dirk Heine
This paper calculates, for the top twenty emitting countries, how much pricing of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is in their own national interests due to domestic co-benefits (leaving aside the global climate benefits). On average, nationally efficient prices are substantial, $57.5 per ton of CO2 (for year 2010), reflecting primarily health co-benefits from reduced air pollution at coal plants and, in some cases, reductions in automobile externalities (net of fuel taxes/subsidies). Pricing co-benefits reduces CO2 emissions from the top twenty emitters by 13.5 percent (a 10.8 percent reduction in global emissions). However, co-benefits vary dramatically across countries (e.g., with population exposure to pollution) and differentiated pricing of CO2 emissions therefore yields higher net benefits (by 23 percent) than uniform pricing. Importantly, the efficiency case for pricing carbon’s co-benefits hinges critically on (i) weak prospects for internalizing other externalities through other pricing instruments and (ii) productive use of carbon pricing revenues.