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The Impact of a Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax on GDP Dynamics: The Case of British Columbia

We study the impact over time of revenue-neutral-designed carbon taxes on GDP in the Canadian province of British Columbia (B.C.). The tax is broad-based, and all rate hikes and their timings were pre-announced. Our time series approach accounts for these pre-announcement effects, as well as for the possible saliency of the tax. Estimated impulse response functions and statistical comparisons of GDP dynamics in the presence and (counterfactual) absence of carbon taxes lead to the same result. Overall, revenue-neutral carbon taxation has no significant negative impacts on GDP. Our setup also allows us to examine the extent of the carbon tax pass-through into energy prices. We find that pass-through is complete. We conclude that implementing revenue-neutral carbon taxation contributes to lowering harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere without hurting the economy.

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Keywords: Environmental policies, carbon tax, GDP impacts, tax pass-through, vector autoregression

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.42.3.jber

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Published in Volume 42, Number 3 of the bi-monthly journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.


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