Coal taxes as supply-side climate policy: a rationale for major exporters?

Philipp M. Richter, Roman Mendelevitch, Frank Jotzo

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The shift away from coal is at the heart of the global low-carbon transition. Can governments of coal-producing countries help facilitate this transition and benefit from it? This paper analyses the case for coal taxes as supply-side climate policy implemented by large coal exporting countries. Coal taxes can reduce global carbon dioxide emissions and benefit coal-rich countries through improved terms-of-trade and tax revenue. We employ a multi-period equilibrium model of the international steam coal market to study a tax on steam coal levied by Australia alone, by a coalition of major exporting countries, by all exporters, and by all producers. A unilateral export tax has little impact on global emissions and global coal prices as other countries compensate for reduced export volumes from the taxing country. By contrast, a tax jointly levied by a coalition of major coal exporters would significantly reduce global emissions from steam coal and leave them with a net sector level welfare gain, approximated by the sum of producer surplus, consumer surplus, and tax revenue. Production taxes consistently yield higher tax revenues and have greater effects on global coal consumption with smaller rates of carbon leakages. Questions remain whether coal taxes by major suppliers would be politically feasible, even if they could yield economic benefits.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)43-56
    JournalClimatic Change
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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