Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 53, Issue 3, pp 409-433

First online:

Privatizing Climate Change Policy: Is there a Public Benefit?

  • Daniel C. MatisoffAffiliated withSchool of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology Email author 

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The Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) are two private voluntary initiatives aimed at reducing carbon emissions and improving carbon management by firms. I sample power plants from firms participating in each of these programs, and match these to plants belonging to non-participating firms, to control for differences between participating and non-participating plants. Using a difference-in-differences model to control for unobservable differences between participants and non-participants, and to control for the trajectory of emissions prior to program participation, I find that the CCX is associated with a decrease in total carbon dioxide emissions for participating plants when non-publicly traded firms are included in the sample. Effects are produced largely by decreases in output. CCX participation is associated with increases in carbon dioxide intensity. The CDP is not associated with a decrease of carbon dioxide emissions or electricity generation, and program participation is associated with an increase in carbon dioxide intensity. I explore these results within the context of voluntary environmental programs to address carbon emissions.


Voluntary environmental programs Climate change policy Chicago climate exchange Carbon disclosure project Difference-in-differences model Propensity score matching Greenwash

JEL Classification

Q50 Q54 Q58 D80 C23