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Abstract

The paper argues from first principles and with supporting related empirical evidence that most of the final incidence of emissions taxes or tradable permits will fall on consumers of greenhouse gas intensive products. This distributional outcome supports an emissions reduction strategy of an emissions tax or auctioning the tradable permits, rather than gifting permits in a grandfather arrangement to current polluters as was done in Europe and has currency with proposals for Australia. Greenhouse gas emissions and climate change is a global pollution problem that gives rise to a prisoner’s dilemma problem in which the global cooperative solution in undermined by individual countries free-riding. Some of the issues and challenges to be overcome to reach a cooperative global policy package are discussed, including the different interests and perspectives of developed and developing countries.

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