- Joint Program Report
Emissions trading systems are recognized as a cost-effective way to facilitate emissions abatement and are expected to play an important role in international cooperation for global climate mitigation. Starting from the planned linkage of the European Union’s Emissions Trading System with a new system in Australia in 2015, this paper simulates the impacts of expanding this international emissions market to include China and the US, which are respectively the largest and second largest carbon dioxide (CO2) emitters in the world. We find that including China and the US significantly impacts the price and the quantity of permits traded internationally. China exports emissions rights while other regions import permits. When China joins the EU-Australia/New Zealand (EU-ANZ) linked market, we find that the prevailing global carbon market price falls significantly, from $33 per ton of carbon dioxide (tCO2) to $11.2/tCO2. By contrast, adding the US to the EU-ANZ market increases the price to $46.1/tCO2. If both China and the US join the linked market, the market price of an emissions permit is $17.5/tCO2 and 608 million metric tons (mmt) are traded, compared to 93 mmt in the EU-ANZ scenario. The US and Australia would transfer, respectively, 55% and 78% of their domestic reduction burden to China (and a small amount to the EU) in return for a total transfer payment of $10.6 billion. International trading of emissions permits also leads to a redistribution of renewable energy production. When permit trading between all regions is considered, relative to when all carbon markets operate in isolation, renewable energy in China expands by more than 20% and shrinks by 48% and 90% in, respectively, the US and Australia-New Zealand. In all scenarios, global emissions are reduced by around 5% relative to a case without climate policies.