Nearly every carbon price regulates the production of carbon emissions, typically at midstream points of compliance such as power plants, consistent with typical advice from the literature. Since the early 2010s however, policymakers in Australia, California, China, Japan and Korea have implemented carbon prices that regulate the consumptionof carbon emissions, where points of compliance are further downstream, such as distributors or final consumers. This article identifies the pivot towards placing the point of compliance for carbon prices further downstream as an emerging international trend, describes the designs of different prices on carbon consumption around the world, and explains the various motivations of the policymakers implementing them. Findings reveal that policymakers tend to layer prices on carbon consumption on top of prices on carbon production in an effort to improve economic outcomes by addressing incomplete pass-through of the carbon price from producer to consumer, thereby facilitating more cost-effective abatement. Policymakers also use prices on carbon consumption to reduce emissions leakage or because large producers of carbon are not within their jurisdiction. The prevalence of prices on carbon consumption will likely increase as evidenced by proposals in China and Europe.
Clayton Munnings, William Acworth, Oliver Sartor, Yong-Gun Kim & Karsten Neuhoff (2018) Pricing carbon consumption: synthesizing an emerging trend, Climate Policy.