Cap-and-trade = Carbon tax + Corporate welfare

Der ökologisch und ökonomisch interessierte Zeitgenosse kann die Zunft der Wirtschaftswissenschaftler dabei beobachten, wie sie über den richtigen Weg streiten, die Emission von Treibhausgasen zu reduzieren. Im Wesentlichen stehen sich die Alternativen Emissionssteuer und Emissionshandel gegenüber. Ein schöner Überblick kommt dabei von Greg Mankiw, selbst eindeutig dem Steuerlager zuzuordnen.

Die Frage ist also, ob Emissionen von Treibhausgasen mit einer Steuer belegt werden (praktisch unsere gute alte Ökosteuer) oder ob Emissionszertifikate vergeben werden, mit denen dann gehandelt wird. Zunächst: Was ist überhaupt der Unterschied in der Praxis?

Here is the good homework problem for introductory microeconomics:

Compare the effects of a $25 carbon tax with a cap-and-trade system in which the cap is set so that the price of a carbon permit ends up at $25. Is the impact on carbon emissions different under the two systems? Is the impact on consumers different? Who wins and who loses with cap-and-trade compared to the tax?

Post your answers in the comments section.

Update: Patrick gives the best answer:
The two systems produce the same effect on carbon emissions [and also on consumers]. The difference is purely distributive. In the tax situation, the government keeps all the revenue. In the cap-and-trade system, the revenue from the sale of permits goes to current polluters (it ends up essentially being a transfer to them).
– Carbon Tax Problem

Das gilt natürlich nur für den Fall, dass die Grenze wirklich die entsprechende Höhe trifft. Tut sie das nicht, fluktuiert der Preis für die Emissionen. Im Falle der Steuer fluktuiert dafür die Emissionshöhe, die im Falle des Zertifikatesystems offensichtlich konstant bleibt. Wenn man im Vorhinein genau wissen (bzw. festlegen) möchte, wie hoch die Emissionen sein werden, scheint die Zertifikatelösung naheliegend. Sie hat aber einen Preis:

For ease of use and immunity from political meddling, the carbon tax is the clear winner. Taxes can be applied early in the fuel distribution process, which makes the logistical task much easier. That sort of upstream application would make attempts at political interference much more transparent, as well. So what about uncertainty? The big critique of a carbon tax is that it cannot guarantee a country will come in under a pre-set emissions cap. If the desire to pollute is really, really high one year, we could find that a given tax won’t serve as a sufficient deterrent, and we’ll blow past our limits.

Europe, though, has had the opposite problem with their cap-and-trade system. In the first phase of the program, they printed more permits to pollute than anyone wanted. That drove the price of permits near zero, deeply annoying anyone who had paid up for the right to pollute. It also meant that the system was ineffective in restraining pollution. That would be hard to do with a carbon tax.
The carbon tax/cap-and-trade royal rumble via News for the Pigou Club

Wenn also die Steuer eigentlich der vorteilhaftere Weg ist, einschließlich der Planungssicherheit für Unternehmen, warum sieht es (wenn überhaupt) nach Zertifikatehandel aus, und zwar sowohl in den USA als auch in Europa?

How did cap and trade, hatched as an academic theory in obscure economic journals half a century ago, become the policy of choice in the debate over how to slow the heating of the planet? And how did it come to eclipse the idea of simply slapping a tax on energy consumption that befouls the public square or leaves the nation hostage to foreign oil producers?

The answer is not to be found in the study of economics or environmental science, but in the realm where most policy debates are ultimately settled: politics. Many members of Congress remember the painful political lesson of 1993, when President Bill Clinton proposed a tax on all forms of energy, a plan that went down to defeat and helped take the Democratic majority in Congress down with it a year later.

Cap and trade, by contrast, is almost perfectly designed for the buying and selling of political support through the granting of valuable emissions permits to favor specific industries and even specific Congressional districts. That is precisely what is taking place now in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has used such concessions to patch together a Democratic majority to pass a far-reaching bill to regulate carbon emissions through a cap-and-trade plan.
From a Theory to a Consensus on Emissions via The Fundamental Theorem in Practice

Was man in der aktuellen amerikanischen Entwicklung auch sehr gut abgebildet findet:

From a Obama-Biden campaign position paper:
Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s cap-and-trade system will require all pollution credits to be auctioned. A 100 percent auction ensures that all large corporate polluters pay for every ton of emissions they release, rather than giving these emission rights away for free to coal and oil companies.
From today’s newspaper:
Under the House bill, only 15% of the emission permits will be auctioned initially. The rest of the permits will be given away — 2% to oil refiners, 5% to free-standing „merchant“ coal plants, 9% to regulated natural-gas distributors, and so on.
Then and Now

Ein weiteres Beispiel meines demnächst allgemeiner auszuführenden Gedankens, dass die Wirtschaft dazu neigt, sich selbst zu regieren, und deshalb die schöne Idee, die Innovationskraft und Effizienz des freien Marktes mit staatlichen Regulierungen dem Allgemeinwohl dienstbar zu machen, schwieriger umzusetzen ist als naiverweise angenommen. Mehr Beispiele finden sich schon jetzt unter dem Schlagwort Neuer Plan.

Datum: Samstag, 11. Juli 2009 17:05
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  1. 1

    Hi Christoph,danke für die guten Gedanken und Quellen!!!Alles Gute,Markus