International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics > Vol 6 > Issue 3

Competitiveness and Leakage Concerns and Border Carbon Adjustments

ZhongXiang Zhang, School of Economics, Fudan University, China,
Suggested Citation
ZhongXiang Zhang (2012), "Competitiveness and Leakage Concerns and Border Carbon Adjustments", International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics: Vol. 6: No. 3, pp 225-287.

Publication Date: 21 Dec 2012
© 2012 Z. Zhang
Environmental Economics
Emission tradingCompetitivenessCarbon leakageEmissions allowance requirementsCarbon tariffsBorder carbon adjustmentsGrandfatheringOutput-based allocationWorld Trade Organization


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In this article:
1 Introduction 
2 The Identification of Sectors at a Significant Risk of Carbon Leakage 
3 How Large is the Magnitude of Leakage Impacts? 
4 Options to Address Competitiveness and Leakage Concerns 
5 The WTO Consistency, the Effectiveness and Methodological Challenges of Border Carbon Adjustment Measures 
6 Conclusions 


This paper provides a review of the literature on competitiveness and leakage concerns associated with differentiated climate abatement commitments among countries. The literature reviewed is not exhausted, but it is sufficient to provide a balanced view of both academics and policy circles. Section 2 discusses how to identify the sectors at a risk of carbon leakage. Section 3 examines ex ante estimates of potential carbon leakage rates, and explains why they differ from ex post results of environmental tax reforms and greenhouse gas emissions trading schemes that have been implemented in the European Union. Section 4 discusses broad policy options to address competitiveness and leakage concerns, and compares which anti-leakage policy, border adjustments or output-based allocation, is more effective to limiting carbon leakages or mitigating production loss in the sectors affected. Given that border carbon adjustment measures are incorporated in the U.S. proposed congressional climate bills to level the carbon playing field and could have potential conflicts with World Trade Organization (WTO) provisions and practical difficulties associated with their implementation, Section 5 discuses in great detail the WTO consistency, the effectiveness and methodological challenges of border carbon adjustment measures. The paper ends with some concluding remarks.