Essays on Environmental and Energy Economics

University dissertation from Uppsala : Department of Economics

Abstract: Essay I: In January, 2005, the EU launched the first international emissions trading system (EU ETS), aimed at reducing carbon emissions in a cost-effective way by means of a market-based instrument. In this paper, we use the treatment/control, before/after design of the natural experiment approach to investigate the treatment effect of the EU ETS on the profitability of a sample of Swedish energy firms in 2005 and 2006. We also investigate whether under-cap and over-cap firms respond differently to the EU ETS. The estimation results in general suggest no significant impact in 2005 and a negative significant impact in 2006. The sub-sample analysis suggests that profitability of under-cap and over-cap firms were affected differently by the EU ETS in 2005, but not in 2006.Essay II: The paper empirically explores the possible causes behind electricity price jumps in the Nordic electricity market, Nord Pool. A time-series model (a mixed GARCH-EARJI jump model) capturing the common statistical features of electricity prices is used to identify price jumps. By the model, a categorical variable is defined distinguishing no, positive and negative jumps. The causes for the jumps are then explored through the use of ordered probit models in a second stage. The empirical results indicate that the structure of the market plays an important role in whether shocks in the demand and supply for electricity translate into price jumps.Essay III: Scientific evidence indicates that human development faces multiple and interacting regime-switching environmental thresholds such as climate change, ocean acidification and biodiversity loss. And crossing one or more such thresholds would trigger rapid and large changes in our life-support system with widespread consequences. This paper attempts to study the effects of such thresholds on human well-being in a growth theoretical framework. We derive the accounting prices of pollution stocks such as the concentration of greenhouse gases for the risk of triggering catastrophic events, which are needed for conducting a dynamic cost-benefit analysis. We first analyze a simple model with a single threshold and then extend it to a planar system with correlated double thresholds with a joint probability distribution. the results can be applied for analyzing global climate change and ocean acidification risks, which are highlighted in a Nature article by Rockström et al. (2009).Essay IV: Lump-sum transfers as a means of tackling climate change are mainly perceived as a theoretical construct to achieve the first best Pareto optimum. The previous literature on lump-sum transfers normally focuses on the two polar cases: the absence of lump-sum transfers and perfect or unconstrained lump-sum transfers, leaving the middle way aside. In this paper, we attempt to explore the unmarked part by developing a model where transfer costs are explicitly taken into account. We show that whether the Pareto optimum characterized by the equalization of marginal abatement costs is attainable depends on the formation of transfer costs. When the marginal transfer cost is zero, the separability of equity and efficiency under perfect lump-sum transfers is kept. However, when the marginal transfer cost is positive, the optimum with equalization of marginal abatement costs is neither attainable, nor desirable. We also simulate a policy experiment in China to review the optimal abatement and transfer patterns between China's provinces within a framework of imperfect lump-sum transfers. The highlighted welfare gains is supportive of considering lump-sum transfers as a national climate change policy.