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Efficient and Equitable Policy Design: Taxing Energy Use or Promoting Energy Savings?

Florian Landis, Sebastian Rausch, Mirjam Kosch, and Christoph Böhringer

Year: 2019
Volume: Volume 40
Number: Number 1
DOI: 10.5547/01956574.40.1.flan
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Abstract:
Should energy use be lowered by using broad-based taxes or through promoting and mandating energy savings through command-and-control measures and targeted subsidies? We integrate a micro-simulation analysis, based on a representative sample of 9,734 households of the Swiss population, into a numerical general equilibrium model to examine the efficiency and equity implications of these alternative regulatory approaches. We find that at the economy-wide level taxing energy is five times more cost-effective than promoting energy savings. About 36% of households gain under tax-based regulation while virtually all households are worse off under a promotion-based policy. Tax-based regulation, however, yields a substantial dispersion in household-level impacts whereas heterogeneous household types are similarly affected under a promotion-based approach. Our analysis points to important trade-offs between efficiency and equity in environmental policy design.



Herding Cats: Firm Non-Compliance in China’s Industrial Energy Efficiency Program

Valerie J. Karplus, Xingyao Shen, and Da Zhang

Year: 2020
Volume: Volume 41
Number: Number 4
DOI: 10.5547/01956574.41.4.vkar
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Abstract:
We study firm responses to a large-scale energy efficiency program in China, focusing on the quality of reporting and compliance outcomes. Using statistical methods to detect data manipulation in compliance reports, we find evidence that firms deliberately exaggerated performance during the first phase of the program (2006-2010), suggesting the high compliance rate was overstated. In its second phase (2011-2015), the number of firms in the program expanded by an order of magnitude, and the compliance rate decreased. We develop a simple model to show how the observed increase in non-compliance is consistent with reduced misreporting. Statistical tests find no evidence of manipulation in the second phase. Larger firms, especially those not controlled by the state, and firms in cities with relatively low growth were more likely to report non-compliance, which suggests a role for state control and local protectionism in shaping compliance decisions. Based on our findings, we offer several lessons for future program design.





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