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23-03-2021 | Original Paper | Issue 2/2021

Social Choice and Welfare 2/2021

Auction mechanisms for allocating subsidies for carbon emissions reduction: an experimental investigation

Journal:
Social Choice and Welfare > Issue 2/2021
Authors:
Haoran He, Yefeng Chen
Important notes

Supplementary Information

The online version contains supplementary material available at https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s00355-021-01318-x.
We thank Dallas Burtraw, William Shobe, Juha Siikamäki, Qian Weng, and Congying Zuo for helpful discussions and comments on this paper. We are grateful to Wei Ma and Yunfeng Zhu for assistance in conducting the experiment. Financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through the Environment for Development Initiative (EfD), MOE (Ministry of Education in China) Project of Humanities and Social Sciences (18YJA790032), the Natural Science Foundation of China (71973016 & 71773111), and the Beijing Natural Science Foundation (9192013) is gratefully acknowledged. All errors and omissions remain the sole responsibility of the authors.

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Abstract

One method to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to subsidize emissions-reducing activities, and allocating such subsidies through auctions is an emerging mechanism. In a controlled experimental market setting, we conduct a laboratory experiment to compare the effects of a variety of auction mechanisms for allocating subsidies in an effort to reduce carbon emissions in China. In addition to the conventional auction mechanisms, we place particular focus on testing the performance of the auction mechanism proposed by Erik Maskin (Notes on auctions for pollution reduction. In: Keynote Speech at the 18th annual conference of European Association for Environmental and Resource Economists, Rome, 2011). We find that while the Maskin auction mechanism spends the most from a fixed subsidy budget and its emissions reduction is among the largest, its per-unit emissions reduction cost is higher than that of discriminatory and uniform-price auction mechanisms. Furthermore, from the government’s perspective, the Maskin auctions exhibit strong improvement tendency with repeated auctions.

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