Jing Cao, Mun S. Ho, Rong Ma, and Fei Teng. In Press. “When carbon emission trading meets a regulated industry: Evidence from the electricity sector of China.” Journal for Public Economics.Abstract
This paper provides retrospective firm-level evidence on the effectiveness of China’s carbon market pilots in reducing emissions in the electricity sector. We show that the carbon emission trading system (ETS) has no effect on changing coal efficiency of regulated coal- fired power plants. Although we find a significant reduction in coal consumption associated with ETS participation, this reduction was achieved by reducing electricity production. The output contraction in the treated plants is not due to their optimizing behavior but is likely driven by government decisions, because the impacts of emission permits on marginal costs are small relative to the controlled electricity prices and the reduction is associated with financial losses. In addition, we find no evidence of carbon leakage to other provinces, but a significant increase in the production of non-coal-fired power plants in the ETS regions. 
Jing Cao, Hancheng Dai, Shantong Li, Chaoyi Guo, Mun Ho, Wenjia Cai, Jianwu He, Hai Huang, Jifeng Li, Yu Liu, Haoqi Qian, Can Wang, Libo Wu, and Xiliang Zhang. 2021. “The general equilibrium impacts of carbon tax policy in China: a multi-model assessment.” Energy Economics, 99, July 2021, Pp. 105284. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We conduct a multi-model comparison of a carbon tax policy in China to examine how different models simulate the impacts in both near-term 2020, medium-term 2030, and distant future 2050. Though Top-down computable general equilibrium(CGE) models have been applied frequently on climate or other environmental/energy policies to assess emission reduction, energy use and economy-wide general equilibrium outcomes in China, the results often vary greatly across models, making it challenging to derive policies. We compare 8 China CGE models with different characteristics to examine how they estimate the effects of a plausible range of carbon tax scenarios – low, medium and high carbon taxes.. To make them comparable we impose the same population growth, the same GDP growth path and world energy price shocks. We find that the 2030 NDC target for China are easily met in all models, but the 2060 carbon neutrality goal cannot be achieved even with our highest carbon tax rates. Through this carbon tax comparison, we find all 8 CGE models differ substantially in terms of impacts on the macroeconomy, aggregate prices, energy use and carbon reductions, as well as industry level output and price effects. We discuss the reasons for the divergent simulation results including differences in model structure, substitution parameters, baseline renewable penetration and methods of revenue recycling.
Rong Ma, Bin Chen, Chenghe Guan, Jing Meng, and Bo Zhang. 2018. “Socioeconomic determinants of China’s growing CH4 emissions.” Journal of Environmental Management, 228, 15 December 2018, Pp. 103-116. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Reducing CH4 emissions is a major global challenge, owing to the world-wide rise in emissions and concentration of CH4 in the atmosphere, especially in the past decade. China has been the greatest contributor to global anthropogenic CH4 emissions for a long time, but current understanding towards its growing emissions is insufficient. This paper aims to link China's CH4 emissions during 2005–2012 to their socioeconomic determinants by combining input-output models with structural decomposition analysis from both the consumption and income perspectives. Results show that changes in household consumption and income were the leading drivers of the CH4 growth in China, while changes in efficiency remained the strongest factor offsetting CH4 emissions. After 2007, with the global financial crisis and economic stimulus plans, embodied emissions from exports plunged but those from capital formation increased rapidly. The enabled emissions in employee compensation increased steadily over time, whereas emissions induced from firms' net surplus decreased gradually, reflecting the reform on income distribution. In addition, at the sectoral level, consumption and capital formation respectively were the greatest drivers of embodied CH4 emission changes from agriculture and manufacturing, while employee compensation largely determined the enabled emission changes across all industrial sectors. The growth of CH4 emissions in China was profoundly affected by the macroeconomic situation and the changes of economic structure. Examining economic drivers of anthropogenic CH4emissions can help formulate comprehensive mitigation policies and actions associated with economic production, supply and consumption.
Jinzhao Yang, Yu Zhao, Jing Cao, and Chris P. Nielsen. 2021. “Co-benefits of carbon and pollution control policies on air quality and health till 2030 in China.” Environment International, 152, 2021. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Facing the dual challenges of climate change and air pollution, China has made great efforts to explore the co-control strategies for the both. We assessed the benefits of carbon and pollution control policies on air quality and human health, with an integrated framework combining an energy-economic model, an air quality model and a concentration–response model. With a base year 2015, seven combined scenarios were developed for 2030 based on three energy scenarios and three end-of-pipe control ones. Policy-specific benefits were then evaluated, indicated by the reduced emissions, surface concentrations of major pollutants, and premature deaths between scenarios. Compared to the 2030 baseline scenario, the nationwide PM2.5- and O3-related mortality was expected to decline 23% or 289 (95% confidence interval: 220–360) thousand in the most stringent scenario, and three quarters of the avoided deaths were attributed to the end-of-pipe control measures. Provinces in heavily polluted and densely populated regions would benefit more from carbon and pollution control strategies. The population fractions with PM2.5 exposure under the national air quality standard (35 μg/m3) and WHO guideline (10 μg/m3) would be doubled from 2015 to 2030 (the most stringent scenario), while still very few people would live in areas with the WHO guideline achieved for O3 (100 μg/m3). Increased health impact of O3 suggested a great significance of joint control of PM2.5 and O3 in future policy-making.
Jing Cao, Mun S Ho, and Rong Ma. 2020. “Analyzing carbon pricing policies using a general equilibrium model with production parameters estimated using firm data.” Energy Economics. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Policy simulation results of Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) models largely hinge on the choices of substitution elasticities among key input factors. Currently, most CGE models rely on the common elasticities estimated from aggregated data, such as the GTAP model elasticity parameters. Using firm level data, we apply the control function method to estimate CES production functions with capital, labor and energy inputs and find significant heterogeneity in substitution elasticities across different industries. Our capital-labor substitution elasticities are much lower than the GTAP values while our energy elasticities are higher. We then incorporate these estimated elasticities into a CGE model to simulate China's carbon pricing policies and compare with the results using GTAP parameters. Our less elastic K-L substitution lead to lower base case GDP growth, but our more elastic energy substitution lead to lower coal use and carbon emissions. In the carbon tax policy exercises, we find that our elasticities lead to easier reductions in coal use and carbon emissions.

Mun Ho, Wolfgang Britz, Ruth Delzeit, Florian Leblanc, Roson Roberto, Franziska Schuenemann, and Matthias Weitzel. 2020. “Modelling consumption and constructing long-term baselines in final demand.” Journal of Global Economic Analysis, 5. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Modelling and projecting consumption, investment and government demand by detailed commodities in CGE models poses many data and methodological challenges. We review the state of knowledge of modelling consumption of commodities (price and income elasticities and demographics), as well as the historical trends that we should be able to explain. We then discuss the current approaches taken in CGE models to project the trends in demand at various levels of commodity disaggregation. We examine the pros and cons of the various approaches to adjust parameters over time or using functions of time and suggest a research agenda to improve modelling and projection. We compare projections out to 2050 using LES, CES and AIDADS functions in the same CGE model to illustrate the size of the differences. In addition, we briefly discuss the allocation of total investment and government demand to individual commodities.