Countries are increasingly committing to midcentury ‘net-zero’ emissions targets under the Paris Agreement, but limiting global warming to 1.5 to 2°C requires cutting emissions by a quarter to a half in this decade. Making sufficient progress to stabilizing the climate therefore requires ratcheting up near-term mitigation action but doing so among 195 parties simultaneously is proving challenging. Reinforcing the Paris Agreement with an international carbon price floor (ICPF) could jump-start emissions reductions through substantive policy action, while circumventing emerging pressure for border carbon adjustments. The ICPF has two elements: (1) a small number of key large-emitting countries, and (2) the minimum carbon price each commits to implement. The arrangement can be pragmatically designed to accommodate equity considerations and emissions-equivalent alternatives to carbon pricing. The paper discusses the rationale for an ICPF, considers design issues, compares it with alternative global regimes, and quantifies its impacts.
The employment impact of environmental policies is an important question for policy makers. We examine the effect of increasing the stringency of environmental policy across a broad set of policies on firms’ labor demand, in a novel identification approach using Worldscope data from 31 countries on firm-level CO2 emissions. Drawing on evidence from as many as 5300 firms over 15 years and the OECD environmental policy stringency (EPS) index, it finds that high emission-intensity firms reduce labor demand upon impact as EPS is tightened, whereas low emission-intensity firms increase labor demand, indicating a reallocation of employment. Moreover, tightening EPS during economic contractions appears to have a positive effect on employment, other things equal. Quantifications exercises show modest positive net changes in employment for market-based policies, and modest negative net changes for non-market policies (mainly emission quantity regulations) and for the combined aggregate EPS. Within market-based policies, the percent decline in employment in high-emission firms (correspondingly the increase in low-emission firms) for a unit change in a policy index is smallest (largest) for trading schemes (“green” certificates, and “white” certificates)—although stringency is not comparable across indices. Finally, the employment effects of EPS are not persistent.
This report emphasizes the environmental, fiscal, economic, and administrative case for using carbon taxes, or similar pricing schemes such as emission trading systems, to implement climate mitigation strategies. It provides a quantitative framework for understanding their effects and trade-offs with other instruments and applies it to the largest advanced and emerging economies. Alternative approaches, like “feebates” to impose fees on high polluters and give rebates to cleaner energy users, can play an important role when higher energy prices are difficult politically. At the international level, the report calls for a carbon price floor arrangement among large emitters, designed flexibly to accommodate equity considerations and constraints on national policies. The report estimates the consequences of carbon pricing and redistribution of its revenues for inequality across households. Strategies for enhancing the political acceptability of carbon pricing are discussed, along with supporting measures to promote clean technology investments.
This paper discusses the role of, and provides practical country-level guidance on, fiscal policies for implementing climate strategies using a unique and transparent tool laying out trade-offs among policy options.
Ian W.H. Parry, Mr. Dirk Heine, Kelley Kizzier, and Tristan Smith
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) announced in April 2018 a target of cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the sector by 50 percent below 2008 levels by 2050 and subsequent meetings of the IMO will develop a strategy for making headway on this commitment. This paper seeks to inform dialogue about the possibility of a carbon tax as a key element of GHG mitigation policy for international maritime transport. The paper discusses the case for the tax over alternative mitigation instruments, options for the practical design issues, and then presents estimates of the impacts of carbon taxation and other instruments from an analytical model of the maritime sector.
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.
The December issue of the Research Bulletin looks at “Seven Questions about Climate Change” (Rabah Arezki and Akito Matsumoto). The Research Summaries review “Winning the Oil Lottery: The Impact of Natural Resource Extraction on Growth” (Tiago Cavalcanti, Daniel Da Mata, and Frederik Toscani) and “Malaysia: Achieving High-Income Status through Resilience and Inclusive Growth” (Alex Mourmouras and Naimh Sheridan). The issue also includes regular updates on new IMF Working Papers, Staff Discussion Notes, IMF books, and the IMF Economic Review.
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.
Although the future extent and effects of global climate change remain uncertain, the expected damages are not zero, and risks of serious environmental and macroeconomic consequences rise with increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Despite the uncertainties, reducing emissions now makes sense, and a carbon tax is the simplest, most effective, and least costly way to do this. At the same time, a carbon tax would provide substantial new revenues which may be badly needed, given historically high debt-to-GDP levels, pressures on social security and medical budgets, and calls to reform taxes on personal and corporate income. This book is about the practicalities of introducing a carbon tax in the United States, set against the broader fiscal context. It consists of thirteen chapters, written by leading experts, covering the full range of issues policymakers would need to understand, such as the revenue potential of a carbon tax, how the tax can be administered, the advantages of carbon taxes over other mitigation instruments and the environmental and macroeconomic impacts of the tax. A carbon tax can work in the United States. This volume shows how, by laying out sound design principles, opportunities for broader policy reforms, and feasible solutions to specific implementation challenges.