Climate Policy and Stranded Carbon Assets: A Financial Perspective

Mar 2018 | 206

Authors: Rick Van der Ploeg Armon Rezai

Unanticipated climate policy curbs the value of physical capital that is costly to adjust. We illustrate this by showing that climate policy to keep peak global warming below 2°C depresses the share prices of oil and gas majors and their market capitalisation, curbs exploration investment and oil and gas discoveries, boosts proven reserves left abandoned in the crust of the earth, cuts exploitation investment, and induces an earlier onset of the carbon-free era. For a given carbon budget, an immediate carbon tax is the first-best response but delaying the carbon tax or a renewable energy subsidy to meet the same temperature target are preferred by shareholders because they introduce Green Paradox effects and protect the profitability of existing capital.

JEL Codes: D20, D53, D92, G11, H32, Q02, Q35, Q38, Q54

Keywords: climate policy, fossil fuel, exploration investment, discoveries, exploitation investment, stranded carbon assets, stock prices, irreversible capital, adjustment costs

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