Working Paper

Robust Dynamic Optimal Taxation and Environmental Externalities

Abstract: We study a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model in which agents are concerned about model uncertainty regarding climate change. An externality from greenhouse gas emissions damages the economy's capital stock. We assume that the mapping from climate change to damages is subject to uncertainty, and we use robust control theory techniques to study efficiency and optimal policy. We obtain a sharp analytical solution for the implied environmental externality and characterize dynamic optimal taxation. A small increase in the concern about model uncertainty can cause a significant drop in optimal fossil fuel use. The optimal tax that restores the socially optimal allocation is Pigouvian. Under more general assumptions, we develop a recursive method and solve the model computationally. We find that the introduction of uncertainty matters qualitatively and quantitatively. We study optimal output growth in the presence and in the absence of concerns about uncertainty and find that these concerns can lead to substantially different conclusions.

Keywords: Climate change; optimal dynamic taxation; uncertainty; robust;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.)

Part of Series: Finance and Economics Discussion Series

Publication Date: 2014-05-29

Number: 2014-75

Pages: 38 pages