Monday, December 07, 2009

The Pigou Club talks to the Senate

Club Member Ted Gayer makes five points:

1. Either a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade program will result in substantially lower economic costs than command-and-control regulations that mandate technologies, fuels, or energy efficiency standards.

2. Given the uncertainty of the future costs of climate policy, a carbon tax is more economically efficient than cap-and-trade.

3. Carbon allowances in a cap-and-trade program would be susceptible to price volatility. Price volatility causes economic disruptions and complicates investment decisions. It also could lead to political pressure on Congress to repeal or substantially loosen the cap.

4. A carbon tax, in which the revenues are used to offset economically harmful taxes or to pay down our deficit, would substantially lower the cost of climate policy compared to a cap-and-trade program that gives away allowances for free.

5. The currently proposed climate bills rely heavily on offsets to reduce the overall costs of cap-and-trade. Given the substantial potential value of offsets, there is a very real concern that offset integrity will not be maintained. This would result in a weakening of the cap, undermining its environmental benefits.

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