Economics, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development
Journal or Book Title
American Economic Review
First Page or Article ID Number
Common views hold that the efficient way to limit warming to a chosen level is to price carbon emissions at a rate that increases exponentially. We show that this Hotelling tax on carbon emissions is actually inefficient. The least-cost policy path takes advantage of the climate system's inertia to delay reducing emissions and allow greater cumulative emissions. The efficient carbon tax follows an inverse-U-shaped path and grows more slowly than the Hotelling tax. Economic models that assume exponentially increasing carbon taxes are overestimating the cost of limiting warming, overestimating the efficient near-term carbon tax, and overvaluing technologies that mature sooner.
H23, Q54, Q58
American Economic Association
Lemoine, Derek and Rudik, Ivan, "Steering the Climate System: Using Inertia to Lower the Cost of Policy" (2017). Economics Publications. 783.