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What would be the effects of a carbon tax in Japan: an historic analysis of subsidies and fuel pricing on the iron & steel, chemical, and machinery industries

Takako Wakiyama Eric Zusman

*Corresponding author: Takako Wakiyama wakiyama@iges.or.jp

energy2016,4,606doi:10.3934/energy.2016.4.606

This study examines how a carbon tax could affect industrial-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in Japan. Rather than forecasting the effects of a tax, the paper employs a time-series autoregressive moving average (ARMA) model to determine how past subsidies and fuel price changes affected investments in energy and carbon intensity in Japan’s iron & steel, chemical, and machinery industries from 1993 to 2004. The results suggest the impacts varied greatly across industries. In the iron & steel industry, subsidies and price changes produced negligible effects on investments in energy and carbon intensity. This may be because existing iron & steel technologies have long lifetimes and substantial replacement costs. It may also be because the few large companies dominating the industry were relatively immune to subsidy provisions and pricing changes. In the chemical industry, subsidies and fuel prices gave rise to investments that improved carbon and energy intensity. This may be because the industry has relatively higher operation costs that could be cut easily given financial incentives. In the machinery industry, two of three fuel price changes (oil and gas), but not subsidy provisions, yielded improvements in carbon and energy intensity. This may reflect the heterogeneity of companies and products comprising the industry. Overall, the study underscores that policymakers need to tailor the rates and revenue recycling provisions of a carbon tax to an industry’s unique features to stimulate CO2 reductions.

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