The political climate trap

Josse Delfgaauw, Otto Swank*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We develop a simple political-economic model of a climate trap. We apply our model to gasoline taxes, which vary dramatically across countries. Externalities cannot fully account for this. Our model shows that group interests, resulting from the composition of a country's car fleet, can explain differences in gasoline taxes even among countries with identical fundamentals. Endogenous car ownership can yield multiple equilibria. This can lead to a political climate trap, where a low gasoline tax reflects the views of a majority, but another majority would benefit from transitioning to a high-tax equilibrium with fewer emissions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102935
JournalJournal of Environmental Economics and Management
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

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© 2024 The Author(s)


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