Auction Mechanisms for Allocating Subsidies for Carbon Emissions Reduction: An Experimental Investigation

You are here

Browse by:



April 2014
Haoran He, Yefeng Chen
Environment for Development Initiative (EfD)

One method to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to subsidize emissions-reducing activities. The question is how to allocate such subsidies. Allocation through auctions is an emerging mechanism. In a controlled experimental market setting, this paper compares the effects of a variety of auction mechanisms for allocating subsidies for carbon emissions reduction in China. Besides the conventional auction mechanisms, this discussion paper place particular focus on testing the actual performance of the auction mechanism proposed by Erik Maskin (2011). The authors find that, while the Maskin auction mechanism spends the most from a fixed subsidy budget and leads to the largest emissions reduction, its per-unit emissions reduction cost is higher than that of discriminatory and uniform-price auction mechanisms. Both the Maskin and uniform-price auctions outperform discriminatory auctions in price discovery. Furthermore, from the government’s perspective, the Maskin auctions exhibit the strongest improvement tendency with repeated auctions.