Environmental Policy in Good and Bad Times: The Countercyclical Effects of Carbon Taxes and Cap-and-Trade

G. Dominioni*, M. Faure

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


'Green recovery' is one of the key themes of the stimulus packages implemented around the world in response to the Covid-19-related economic downturn. Recent research points to the potential role of regulation that becomes less stringent during recessions (ie countercyclical regulation) as an instrument to stimulate a quicker recovery. When this argument is put in the context of a green recovery, two key questions arise: should we implement countercyclical environmental regulation? If yes, what environmental instruments are better suited to stimulate the economy in periods of economic downturn? This article addresses these questions by discussing the risks of countercyclical environmental regulation and comparing the countercyclical effects of two critical environmental instruments: carbon taxes and cap-and-trade. The article argues that policymakers should be cautious in implementing countercyclical environmental regulation because the benefits of this practice are uncertain and it entails various risks. The article also challenges the belief common among academics and policymakers that cap-and-trade is inherently more countercyclical than carbon taxes by showing that whether this is true depends on the design of these instruments and other contingent factors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-286
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Environmental Law
Issue number2
Early online date6 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2022


  • Carbon tax versus cap-and-trade
  • countercyclical environmental regulation
  • law & macroeconomics
  • linking cap-and-trade
  • prices
  • Law & macroeconomics
  • Countercyclical environmental regulation
  • Linking cap-and-trade

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