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Wilcoxen study on subsidizing household capital published in The Energy Journal

Dec 31, 2010

Subsidizing Household Capital: How Does Energy Efficiency Policy Compare to a Carbon Tax?

Warwick J. McKibbin, Adele C. Morris, Peter J. Wilcoxen

The Energy Journal, December 2010

Peter Wilcoxen

Peter Wilcoxen

This study uses a general equilibrium model to compare environmental and economic outcomes of two policies: (1) a tax credit of 10 percent of the price of household capital that is 20 percent more energy efficient than its unsubsidized counterpart, assuming half of new household investment qualifies for the credit; and (2) a tax starting at $30 ($2007) per metric ton of CO2 rising five percent annually. By 2040, the carbon tax and tax credit reduce emissions by about 601.5 percent, respectively.

Assuming other countries impose no carbon price, the authors find that although the carbon tax reduces U.S. GDP, it improves U.S. household welfare because it reduces world fuel prices, strengthens U.S. terms of trade, and makes imports cheaper. The revenue neutral tax credit reduces welfare but boosts U.S. GDP growth slightly at first. Both policies have similar impacts on the federal budget, but of opposite signs.