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Using vehicle taxes to reduce carbon dioxide emissions rates of new passenger vehicles: evidence from France, Germany, and Sweden

  • Thomas H. Klier
  • Joshua Linn

France, Germany, and Sweden have recently linked vehicle taxes to the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rates of passenger vehicles. France has introduced a system of CO2-based purchase taxes and subsidies, whereas Germany and Sweden impose annual circulation (i.e., registration) taxes that are linear functions of CO2 emissions rates. This paper (a) compares the effects of vehicle taxes on registrations and average emissions rates across countries and (b) estimates the effect of reducing CO2 emissions rates on manufacturers’ profits. The taxes have had a significant negative short-run effect on new vehicle registrations in all three countries, although the effect is somewhat stronger in France than in Germany and Sweden. We find little evidence that the French tax caused manufacturers to change the emissions rates of individual vehicles, however. The second part of the paper takes advantage of the theoretical equivalence between an emissions rate standard and a CO2-based emissions rate tax. We use the results from the first part to estimate the effect on manufacturers’ profits of reducing emissions rates. Focusing on France, a decrease of 5 grams of CO2 per kilometer (about 3 percent) reduces short-run profits by 10–50 euros per vehicle, depending on the manufacturer. We find considerable heterogeneity across manufactures in these costs.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-2012-09.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-2012-09
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  1. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2009. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1145-77, September.
  2. James M. Sallee & Joel Slemrod, 2010. "Car Notches: Strategic Automaker Responses to Fuel Economy Policy," NBER Working Papers 16604, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Soren T. Anderson & Carolyn Fischer & Ian Parry & James M. Sallee, 2010. "Automobile Fuel Economy Standards: Impacts, Efficiency, and Alternatives," NBER Working Papers 16370, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Thomas Klier & Joshua Linn, 2011. "Fuel Prices and New Vehicle Fuel Economy in Europe," Working Papers 1117, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.
  5. Amy Finkelstein, 2007. "E-ZTax: Tax Salience and Tax Rates," NBER Working Papers 12924, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Thomas Klier & Joshua Linn, 2012. "New‐vehicle characteristics and the cost of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 43(1), pages 186-213, 03.
  7. Soren T. Anderson & James M. Sallee, 2009. "Using Loopholes to Reveal the Marginal Cost of Regulation: The Case of Fuel-Economy Standards," Working Papers 0901, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  8. Goldberg, Pinelopi Koujianou, 1998. "The Effects of the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency Standards in the US," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(1), pages 1-33, March.
  9. Huse, Cristian, 2014. "Fast and Furious (and Dirty): How Asymmetric Regulation May Hinder Environmental Policy," MPRA Paper 48909, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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