The economic and environmental effects of an optimal emission reduction subsidy policy in the presence of business cycles

Publication Name

Studies in Economics and Finance


Purpose: As a by-product of the production process, emissions can follow output fluctuations. Hence, disregarding the relationship between economic fluctuations and emissions could result in undesirable environmental outcomes. This study aims to investigate the environmental and economic effects of abatement subsidies on overall emissions during business cycles in Australia. Design/methodology/approach: A real business cycle (RBC) model is devised and parameterised in this paper. RBC models have been recently introduced to environmental policy analysis, and this study contributes to the literature by investigating the effects of a potential subsidy policy in an RBC framework. The model is also calibrated and provides solutions for the Australian economy. Findings: The authors find that under a steady-state situation, supporting abatement can result in reducing emissions by 6.45% while it imposes welfare costs to the economy (by 0.61%). Simulation results show that an optimal abatement policy should be pro-cyclical, with the abatement subsidy increasing during expansions and decreasing during recessions. As well, in a subsidy policy setting, emissions would react pro-cyclically, i.e. emissions increase (decrease) when the gross domestic product increases (decreases). The abatement reaction by firms, however, is different, because when a positive productivity shock occurs, firms reduce abatement and allocate resources to production. Nonetheless, as time passes, the increased subsidy provides a strong enough incentive to allocate resources to abatement and, subsequently, abatement increases. Originality/value: This paper investigates how an emission reduction subsidy should be adapted to macroeconomic fluctuations so that it can limit variations in emissions.

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