Multiple instruments to change energy behaviour: The emperor’s new clothes?
Torstein Bye and Annegrete Bruvoll
Over the last few decades, several instruments have evolved to deal with similar energy and environmental challenges. For instance, the economic literature prescribes separate tax or cap-and-trade systems to internalize negative environmental externalities and subsidies to internalize positive externalities such as R&D. However, policy is not straightforward because of the influence on cost and competition and concerns for regional employment, economic activity within certain industries, and any distributional effects. Tax discrimination, subsidies and regulations then undermine the efficiency of energy instruments. To balance any environmental concerns, other instruments, including green and white certificates, have been created. While innovative, these work as simple combinations of taxes and subsidies. While the extant literature thoroughly analyzes the partial effects of these instruments, there has been little focus on their basics and the effects of aggregate taxes and subsidies. This complexity calls for research on the efficiency of each instrument, including the administration and transaction costs associated with holding a large set of instruments. We should consider the coordination and simplification of policy tools before complicating the system further by introducing new, primarily equivalent, instruments.
energy instruments; taxes; subsidies; green certificates; white certificates; carbon taxes
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