Distribution of Emissions Allowances as an Opportunity

Distribution of Emissions Allowances as an Opportunity

“Distribution of Emissions Allowances as an Opportunity” Climate Policy 7, 2007


Much of the debate on climate policy in the USA focuses on the gain or loss to the macroeconomy of alternative policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, the economy is made up of multiple individuals, not a single representative agent. This article reports the results of alternative ways of distributing emissions allocations across citizens. Macroeconomic effects interact with the policy for distribution, but the distributional weights are more important for the welfare of individual agents than the economy-wide effects of the emissions reductions. Egalitarian distributions of the emissions allowances have the potential to increase the welfare of most people, even if significant emissions reductions are mandated. Focusing on the distribution of emissions allowances (or the revenues generated from an emissions tax) rather than on aggregate GDP may provide guidance in identifying and implementing politically viable solutions to the climate change mitigation problem.


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