Absolute abundance and relative scarcity: Environmental policy with implementation lags

Corrado Di Maria, Sjak Smulders, Edwin Van der Werf

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36 Citations (Scopus)


Until now, there has been little empirical evidence that EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) transaction costs are incurred at firm level. The transaction costs (internal costs, capital costs, consultancy and trading costs) incurred by Irish firms under the EU ETS during its pilot phase (2005–2007) were measured and analysed. Evidence for the sources of transaction costs, their magnitude and the distribution of costs shows that these were mainly administrative in nature. Considerable variation in costs was found due to economies of scale, as the costs per tonne of CO2 were lower for participants with larger allocations. For the largest firms—accounting for over half the emissions—average transaction costs were €0.05 per tonne. However, for small firms, average transaction costs were €2.02—over 18% of the current allowance price. This supports the concerns that transaction costs are excessive for smaller participants. The immediate policy implication is that additional attention will be needed to address different sizes of firms, number of installations per firm, and the size of the initial allocations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-119
Number of pages15
JournalEcological Economics
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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