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Cutting with both arms of the scissors: the economic and political case for restrictive supply-side climate policies

Green, Fergus ORCID: 0000-0001-5317-6016 and Denniss, Richard (2018) Cutting with both arms of the scissors: the economic and political case for restrictive supply-side climate policies. Climatic Change, 150 (1-2). pp. 73-87. ISSN 0165-0009

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s10584-018-2162-x


Proponents of climate change mitigation face difficult choices about which types of policy instrument(s) to pursue. The literature on the comparative evaluation of climate policy instruments has focused overwhelmingly on economic analyses of instruments aimed at restricting demand for greenhouse gas emissions (especially carbon taxes and cap-and-trade schemes) and, to some extent, on instruments that support the supply of or demand for substitutes for emissions-intensive goods, such as renewable energy. Evaluation of instruments aimed at restricting the upstream supply of commodities or products whose downstream consumption causes greenhouse gas emissions—such as fossil fuels—has largely been neglected in this literature. Moreover, analyses that compare policy instruments using both economic and political (e.g. political “feasibility” and “feedback”) criteria are rare. This article aims to help bridge both of these gaps. Specifically, the article demonstrates that restrictive supply-side policy instruments (targeting fossil fuels) have numerous characteristic economic and political advantages over otherwise similar restrictive demand-side instruments (targeting greenhouse gases). Economic advantages include low administrative and transaction costs, higher abatement certainty (due to the relative ease of monitoring, reporting and verification), comprehensive within-sector coverage, some advantageous price/efficiency effects, the mitigation of infrastructure “lock-in” risks, and mitigation of the “green paradox”. Political advantages include the superior potential to mobilise public support for supply-side policies, the conduciveness of supply-side policies to international policy cooperation, and the potential to bring different segments of the fossil fuel industry into a coalition supportive of such policies. In light of these attributes, restrictive supply-side policies squarely belong in the climate policy “toolkit”.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 The Authors © CC BY 4.0
Divisions: Government
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Date Deposited: 02 May 2018 10:53
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2024 07:36

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