WG III Mitigation - Technical Summary

Climate Change 2001: Mitigation

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8.7 "Spillover" Effects19 from Actions Taken in Annex B on Non-Annex B Countries

In a world where economies are linked by international trade and capital flows, abatement of one economy will have welfare impacts on other abating or non-abating economies. These impacts are called spillover effects, and include effects on trade, carbon leakage, transfer and diffusion of environmentally sound technology, and other issues (Figure TS.8).

As to the trade effects, the dominant finding of the effects of emission constraints in Annex B countries on non-Annex B countries in simulation studies prior to the Kyoto Protocol was that Annex B abatement would have a predominantly adverse impact on non-Annex B regions. In simulations of the Kyoto Protocol, the results are more mixed with some non-Annex B regions experiencing welfare gains and other losses. This is mainly due to a milder target in the Kyoto simulations than in pre-Kyoto simulations. It was also universally found that most non-Annex B economies that suffered welfare losses under uniform independent abatement would suffer smaller welfare losses under emissions trading.

Figure TS.8: "Spillovers" from domestic mitigation strategies are the effects that these strategies have on other countries. Spillover effects can be positive or negative and include effects on trade, carbon leakage, transfer and diffusion of environmentally sound technology, and other issues.

A reduction in Annex B emissions will tend to result in an increase in non-Annex B emissions reducing the environmental effectiveness of Annex B abatement. This is called "carbon leakage", and can occur in the order of 5%-20% through a possible relocation of carbon-intensive industries because of reduced Annex B competitiveness in the international marketplace, lower producer prices of fossil fuels in the international market, and changes in income due to better terms of trade.

While the SAR reported that there was a high variance in estimates of carbon leakage from the available models, there has been some reduction in the variance of estimates obtained in the subsequent years. However, this may largely result from the development of new models based on reasonably similar assumptions and data sources. Such developments do not necessarily reflect more widespread agreement about appropriate behavioural assumptions. One robust result seems to be that carbon leakage is an increasing function of the stringency of the abatement strategy. This means that leakage may be a less serious problem under the Kyoto target than under the more stringent targets considered previously. Also emission leakage is lower under emissions trading than under independent abatement. Exemptions for energy-intensive industries found in practice, and other factors, make the higher model estimates for carbon leakage unlikely, but would raise aggregate costs.

Carbon leakage may also be influenced by the assumed degree of competitiveness in the world oil market. While most studies assume a competitive oil market, studies considering imperfect competition find lower leakage if OPEC is able to exercise a degree of market power over the supply of oil and therefore reduce the fall in the international oil price. Whether or not OPEC acts as a cartel can have a reasonably significant effect on the loss of wealth to OPEC and other oil producers and on the level of permit prices in Annex B regions (see also Section 9.2).

The third spillover effect mentioned above, the transfer and diffusion of environmentally sound technology, is related to induced technical change (see Section 8.10). The transfer of environmentally sound technologies and know-how, not included in models, may lead to lower leakage and especially on the longer term may more than offset the leakage.

8.8 Summary of the Main Results for Kyoto Targets

The cost estimates for Annex B countries to implement the Kyoto Protocol vary between studies and regions, and depend strongly upon the assumptions regarding the use of the Kyoto mechanisms, and their interactions with domestic measures. The great majority of global studies reporting and comparing these costs use international energy-economic models. Nine of these studies suggest the following GDP impacts20:

Annex II countries21: In the absence of emissions trading between Annex B countries22, the majority of global studies show reductions in projected GDP of about 0.2% to 2% in 2010 for different Annex II regions. With full emissions trading between Annex B countries, the estimated reductions in 2010 are between 0.1% and 1.1% of projected GDP23. These studies encompass a wide range of assumptions. Models whose results are reported here assume full use of emissions trading without transaction cost. Results for cases that do not allow Annex B trading assume full domestic trading within each region. Models do not include sinks or non-CO2 greenhouse gases. They do not include the CDM, negative cost options, ancillary benefits, or targeted revenue recycling.

For all regions costs are also influenced by the following factors:

  • Constraints on the use of Annex B trading, high transaction costs in implementing the mechanisms and inefficient domestic implementation could raise costs.
  • Inclusion in domestic policy and measures of the no regrets possibilities, use of the CDM, sinks, and inclusion of non-CO2 greenhouse gases, could lower costs. Costs for individual countries can vary more widely.

The models show that the Kyoto mechanisms, are important in controlling risks of high costs in given countries, and thus can complement domestic policy mechanisms. Similarly, they can minimize risks of inequitable international impacts and help to level marginal costs. The global modelling studies reported above show national marginal costs to meet the Kyoto targets from about US$20/tC up to US$600/tC without trading, and a range from about US$15/tC up to US$150/tC with Annex B trading. The cost reductions from these mechanisms may depend on the details of implementation, including the compatibility of domestic and international mechanisms, constraints, and transaction costs.

Economies in transition: For most of these countries, GDP effects range from negligible to a several percent increase. This reflects opportunities for energy efficiency improvements not available to Annex II countries. Under assumptions of drastic energy efficiency improvement and/or continuing economic recessions in some countries, the assigned amounts may exceed projected emissions in the first commitment period. In this case, models show increased GDP through revenues from trading assigned amounts. However, for some economies in transition, implementing the Kyoto Protocol will have similar impacts on GDP as for Annex II countries.

Non-Annex I countries: Emission constraints in Annex I countries have well established, albeit varied "spillover" effects24 on non-Annex I countries.

  • Oil-exporting, non-Annex I countries: Analyses report costs differently, including, inter alia, reductions in projected GDP and reductions in projected oil revenues25. The study reporting the lowest costs shows reductions of 0.2% of projected GDP with no emissions trading, and less than 0.05% of projected GDP with Annex B emissions trading in 201026. The study reporting the highest costs shows reductions of 25% of projected oil revenues with no emissions trading, and 13% of projected oil revenues with Annex B emissions trading in 2010. These studies do not consider policies and measures27 other than Annex B emissions trading, that could lessen the impact on non-Annex I, oil-exporting countries, and therefore tend to overstate both the costs to these countries and overall costs.
    The effects on these countries can be further reduced by removal of subsidies for fossil fuels, energy tax restructuring according to carbon content, increased use of natural gas, and diversification of the economies of non-Annex I, oil-exporting countries.

  • Other non-Annex I countries: They may be adversely affected by reductions in demand for their exports to OECD nations and by the price increase of those carbon-intensive and other products they continue to import. These countries may benefit from the reduction in fuel prices, increased exports of carbon-intensive products and the transfer of environmentally sound technologies and know-how. The net balance for a given country depends on which of these factors dominates. Because of these complexities, the breakdown of winners and losers remains uncertain.

  • Carbon leakage:28 The possible relocation of some carbon-intensive industries to non-Annex I countries and wider impacts on trade flows in response to changing prices may lead to leakage in the order of 5-20%. Exemptions, for example for energy-intensive industries, make the higher model estimates for carbon leakage unlikely, but would raise aggregate costs. The transfer of environmentally sound technologies and know-how, not included in models, may lead to lower leakage and especially on the longer term may more than offset the leakage.

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