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The mitigation potential of eco-taxation on carbon emissions: income effects under downward rigid wages

Abstract

Eco-taxation is the preferred market based tool for achieving mitigation of CO2 emissions and fostering sustainability. It works through tax-induced changes in the price of polluting activities while ideally transferring the environmental cost to emitters and users. The initial eco-tax signaling is transmitted and further amplified to the rest of the economy through the structure of cost interactions. In particular, real-world economies work under wage adjustment rules that reflect downward rigidity in labor costs when facing rising prices. These common rules may affect the mitigation capacity of the eco-tax policies. We study this issue using an inter-industry model in which we overcome the classical dichotomy between prices and quantities thanks to the novelty of connecting consumption demand with the changes in private income levels that would follow from the enacted eco-tax. We isolate income effects by keeping the given productive structure of the economy as unaltered as possible. In this sense, the proposed model has a bit of a neo-ricardian flavor. We implement the model and check the mitigation effectiveness of two different eco-tax policies using recent tabular data for the Spanish economy in 2015. The main conclusion is that we would not observe double benefits, even when all eco-tax collections are recycled back into the economy.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    We use CONOPT as the default solver and the algorithm DNLP available within CONOPT.

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Acknowledgements

I would like to acknowledge support from research project MICINN-ECO2017-85534P. I am also grateful to two referees for their excellent points and suggestions for improvement. Needless to say, any remaining errors are solely my own.

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Correspondence to Ferran Sancho.

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Sancho, F. The mitigation potential of eco-taxation on carbon emissions: income effects under downward rigid wages. Environ Econ Policy Stud 23, 93–107 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10018-020-00280-9

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Keywords

  • Mitigation
  • Eco-taxation
  • Tax recycling
  • Wage adjustment

JEL Classification

  • C57
  • Q41
  • Q52
  • Q58