Regulations and carbon pricing can work together

On Friday, the Harper government’s new fuel efficiency regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, including the full cost-benefit analysis.

These costs are incremental to the baseline so, for example, technology costs add $195 million (present value) to the costs of the model year 2017 fleet, and add $2.4 billion (present value) to the costs of the model year 2025 fleet.

The incremental technology costs for model year 2017 are expected to be $127 for cars and $162 for light trucks, increasing to $1,856 for cars and $2,453 for light trucks in model year 2025 in order to meet the increasingly stringent standards of the proposed Regulations. In reality, relative changes in vehicle prices and performance may affect consumer choice; however, it is not within the capacity of the analysis to model consumer choice.

PJ Partington of the Pembina Institute defends the new standards and argues that a price on carbon would complement such regulations.

None of this is to say that carbon pricing doesn’t have an important role in tackling emissions from transportation. Carbon pricing would support these regulations by creating more demand for fuel-efficient vehicles and encouraging people to reduce their vehicle use. Carbon pricing would also provide revenues that governments could re-invest in clean transportation options like transit and electric vehicle infrastructure.

We don’t see it as a choice between carbon pricing and efficiency standards: they’re complementary, not alternatives. By ensuring that efficiency continues to improve across the board, standards like these help manage the impact of higher gas prices from carbon pricing, and ensures that they will have plenty of cleaner options to choose from. The Western Climate Initiative, which features a cap-and-trade system, also sees stringent vehicle standards as a key complementary policy to carbon pricing. An economic modeling assessment of climate policy options for Canada that we published in 2009 took the same approach. 

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