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Haucap, Justus
Kirstein, Roland
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
CSLE Discussion Paper 2001-06
This paper analyzes the incentive effects of pollution taxes versus pollution permits for a revenue maximizing Government that also pursues environmental objectives. In our model, pollution permits are analyzed as durable goods, and the leasing of pollution permits is seen as an equivalent to a pollution tax. We show that environmental policy based on durable pollution permits can be welfare superior to a pollution tax regime. The intuition is that a monopolistic Government would, in order to maximize its revenues, try to restrict the permit sales below the welfare maximizing level. While a pollution tax or leasing charge allows the Government to credibly commit to a monopoly level of pollution in future periods, a system based on durable permits weakens the monopolistic Government?s ability to credibly restrict future sales. Therefore, a pollution tax regime may be better for the environment and simultaneously increase Government revenues, but social welfare is larger with pollution permits. Hence, a regime where the Government cannot commit to monopoly quantities may be preferable from a welfare economic perspective. This argument in favor of durable permits complements more traditional arguments based on information asymmetries and innovation incentives.
Emissions Permits
Pollution Tax
Time Inconsistency
Durable Goods
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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