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Should a vehicle fuel economy standard be combined with an economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions constraint? Implications for energy and climate policy in the United States

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  • Karplus, Valerie J.
  • Paltsev, Sergey
  • Babiker, Mustafa
  • Reilly, John M.

Abstract

The United States has adopted fuel economy standards that require increases in the on-road efficiency of new passenger vehicles, with the goal of reducing petroleum use and (more recently) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Understanding the cost and effectiveness of fuel economy standards, alone and in combination with economy-wide policies that constrain GHG emissions, is essential to inform coordinated design of future climate and energy policy. We use a computable general equilibrium model, the MIT Emissions Prediction and Policy Analysis (EPPA) model, to investigate the effect of combining a fuel economy standard with an economy-wide GHG emissions constraint in the United States. First, a fuel economy standard is shown to be at least six to fourteen times less cost effective than a price instrument (fuel tax) when targeting an identical reduction in cumulative gasoline use. Second, when combined with a cap-and-trade (CAT) policy, a binding fuel economy standard increases the cost of meeting the GHG emissions constraint by forcing expensive reductions in passenger vehicle gasoline use, displacing more cost-effective abatement opportunities. Third, the impact of adding a fuel economy standard to the CAT policy depends on the availability and cost of abatement opportunities in transport—if advanced biofuels provide a cost-competitive, low carbon alternative to gasoline, the fuel economy standard does not bind and the use of low carbon fuels in passenger vehicles makes a significantly larger contribution to GHG emissions abatement relative to the case when biofuels are not available. This analysis underscores the potentially large costs of a fuel economy standard relative to alternative policies aimed at reducing petroleum use and GHG emissions. It further emphasizes the need to consider sensitivity to vehicle technology and alternative fuel availability and costs as well as economy-wide responses when forecasting the energy, environmental, and economic outcomes of policy combinations.

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  • Karplus, Valerie J. & Paltsev, Sergey & Babiker, Mustafa & Reilly, John M., 2013. "Should a vehicle fuel economy standard be combined with an economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions constraint? Implications for energy and climate policy in the United States," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 322-333.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eneeco:v:36:y:2013:i:c:p:322-333
    DOI: 10.1016/j.eneco.2012.09.001
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    2. Saket, Mohammad Javad & Maleki, Abbas & Hezaveh, Erfan Doroudgar & Karimi, Mohammad Sadegh, 2019. "Institutional analysis on impediments over fuel consumption reduction at Iran's transportation niches," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 861-867.
    3. Bhardwaj, Chandan & Axsen, Jonn & Kern, Florian & McCollum, David, 2020. "Why have multiple climate policies for light-duty vehicles? Policy mix rationales, interactions and research gaps," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 309-326.
    4. Chen, Y.-H. Henry & Paltsev, Sergey & Reilly, John M. & Morris, Jennifer F. & Babiker, Mustafa H., 2016. "Long-term economic modeling for climate change assessment," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 52(PB), pages 867-883.
    5. Bishop, Justin D.K. & Martin, Niall P.D. & Boies, Adam M., 2016. "Quantifying the role of vehicle size, powertrain technology, activity and consumer behaviour on new UK passenger vehicle fleet energy use and emissions under different policy objectives," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 180(C), pages 196-212.
    6. Malik, Leeza & Tiwari, Geetam, 2017. "Assessment of interstate freight vehicle characteristics and impact of future emission and fuel economy standards on their emissions in India," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 121-133.
    7. Stiglitz, Joseph E., 2019. "Addressing climate change through price and non-price interventions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 594-612.
    8. Wang, Jiayu & Quiggin, John & Wittwer, Glyn, 2019. "The rebound effect of the Australian proposed light vehicle fuel efficiency standards," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 73-84.
    9. Montag, Josef, 2015. "The simple economics of motor vehicle pollution: A case for fuel tax," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 138-149.
    10. Guerrero, Sebastian E. & Madanat, Samer M. & Leachman, Robert C., 2013. "The Trucking Sector Optimization Model: A tool for predicting carrier and shipper responses to policies aiming to reduce GHG emissions," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 85-107.
    11. Paltsev, Sergey & Chen, Y.-H. Henry & Karplus, Valerie & Kishimoto, Paul & Reilly, John & Loeschel, Andreas & von Graevenitz, Kathrine & Koesler, Simon, 2015. "Reducing CO2 from cars in the European Union: Emission standards or emission trading?," MEP Discussion Papers 84, University of Münster, Münster Center for Economic Policy (MEP).
    12. Voltes-Dorta, Augusto & Perdiguero, Jordi & Jiménez, Juan Luis, 2013. "Are car manufacturers on the way to reduce CO2 emissions?: A DEA approach," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 77-86.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fuel economy standard; Climate policy; Vehicles; CGE modeling;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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