Emissions Trading with Updated Allocation: Effects on Entry/Exit and Distribution
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Allocation of emissions allowances may have significant distributional and efficiency effects. It is well known that cost-efficiency may be achieved if allowances are auctioned or distributed in a lump sum manner, e.g., based on emissions levels before the start of the system (‘grandfathering’). Böhringer and Lange (Eur Econ Rev 49:2041–2055, 2005) show that a cost-effective outcome can also be achieved if the base year for allocation is continually updated (‘updating’), given that banking and borrowing are prohibited. In this paper we examine whether updating alters the entry and exit conditions for firms compared to grandfathering, and how it affects profits for new and existing firms. We find that the two schemes function surprisingly similar: First, the incentives to entry and exit are identical. Second, the total value of free quotas to existing firms, based on emissions before the system starts, is also identical without any auctioning. With updating initial claims for free allowances have a shorter lifetime compared to grandfathering, but quota prices are higher as firms anticipate the effect of current emissions on future claims to free allowances. The two effects exactly cancel each other out. If there is some combination of auction and free allocation, the total value of free quotas will always be highest under grandfathering if the auction rate is the same. Entry and exit incentives are still equal.
KeywordsEmissions trading Allocation of quotas Quota prices
JEL ClassificationH21 Q28
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