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Testing Supply-Side Climate Policies for the Global Steam Coal Market - Can They Curb Coal Consumption?

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Abstract: The achieved international consensus on the 1.5‐2°C target entails that most of current fossil fuel reserves must remain unburned. Currently, a majority of climate policies aiming at this goal are directed towards the demand side. In the absence of a global carbon regime these polices are prone to carbon leakage and other adverse effects. Supply‐side climate policies present an alternative and more direct approach to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels by addressing their production. Here, coal as both, the most abundant and the most emission-intensive fuel, plays a pivotal role. In this paper, I employ a numerical model of the international steam coal market (COALMOD‐World) to examine two alternative supply‐side policies: 1) a production subsidy reform introduced in major coal producing countries, in line with the G20 initiative to reduce global fossil fuel subsidies; 2) a globally implemented moratorium on new coal mines. The model is designed to replicate global patterns of coal supply, demand and international trade. It features endogenous investments in production and transportation capacities in a multi‐period framework and allows for substitution between imports and domestic production of steam coal. Hence, short‐run adjustments (e.g. import substitution effects) and long‐run reactions (e.g. capacity expansions) of exporting and importing countries are endogenously determined. Results show that a subsidy removal, while associated with a small positive total welfare effect, only leads to an insignificant reduction of global emissions. By contrast, a mine moratorium induces a much more pronounced reduction in global coal consumption by effectively limiting coal availability and strongly increasing prices. Depending on the specification of reserves, the moratorium can achieve a coal consumption path consistent with the 1.5‐2°C target.

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