We explore the possibilities of using incentive-based environmental regulations of CO2 emissions from international civil aviation. In theory incentive-based instruments such as an emission charge or a tradable emission permit system are better regulations than so-called command-and-control regulations such as emission limits or technology standards.
However, the implementation of these instruments is a complex issue. We therefore describe and discuss how an emission charge and a tradable emission permit system for international aviation should be designed in order to improve efficiency. We also compare these two types of regulations. In brief, we find that an emission charge and a tradable emission permit system in which the permits are auctioned have more or less the same characteristics. The main advantage of a tradable emission permit system is that the effect, in terms of emission reductions, is known. On the other hand, we show that under uncertainty an emission charge is preferred. The choice of regulation is a political decision and it does not seem likely that an environmental charge or a tradable emission permit system would be implemented without consideration of the costs of the regulation. Revenue-neutral charges or gratis distribution of permits would, for this reason, be realistic choices of regulations. However, such actions are likely to result in less stringent regulations and other negative welfare effects.
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