Green car taxes: Lower CO2 emissions

PRESS RELEASE 3-10-2016 - 12% of the total CO2 emissions in the EU is caused by private cars. Therefore the EU pursues an active policy to reduce these CO2 emissions by means of green car taxes, stimulating the purchase of cleaner cars. Consumers react to higher taxes by trading their ‘polluting’ gasoline-powered vehicles for ‘cleaner’ (i.e., less CO2-emitting) diesel-powered cars. However, this will possibly lead to more particulate matter emissions.

That is Inge van den Bijgaart’s conclusion in her PhD research into the effects of car taxes in the EU, one of the five studies on environmental economics and policy which she will defend on October 7 at Tilburg University.

The PhD researcher analysed data from fifteen EU countries over the period from 2001 to 2010, whereby she looked at the effects of purchase tax (in the Netherlands: BPM, the private motor vehicle and motorcycle tax), road tax, and fuel tax rates on the average emissions of new cars. Her research shows that it is mainly the CO2-dependent purchase tax that stimulated consumers to buy cars that emit lower levels of CO2.

Larger percentage of diesel cars

One striking result is that the larger part of this CO2 reduction is caused by the increase in the percentage of diesel cars, that emit lower amounts of CO2 than gasoline-powered cars. The effect of road taxes is less clear. This is probably because consumers are more sensitive to taxes that they pay directly than to future taxes. The increase of the percentage of diesel-powered cars has indeed led to lower CO2 emissions but, on the downside, it has possibly led to more pollution in our immediate living environment as a result of increases in particulates emissions.

Inge van den Bijgaart (1988, Eindhoven) studied International Economics and Finance. After completing her Research Master in Economics at Tilburg University in 2012, she started her PhD research at the Tilburg Sustainablilty Center and the Oslo Center for Research on Environmentally friendly Energy. In 2015, she was a research fellow at the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics of the University of Maryland. She is currently working as a postdoc researcher at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Noot voor de pers

Inge van den Bijgaart’s defense of her PhD thesis, entitled Essays in Environmental Economics and Policy, will take place on Friday, October 7, 2016, at 14:00 hrs. in the Tilburg University Auditorium. PhD supervisors: Professor Reyer Gerlagh and Professor Sjak Smulders.

For more information, please contact: Inge van den Bijgaart, e-mail i.m.vdnbijgaart@tilburguniversity.edu or press officer Annemeike Tan, phone +31 13-466 2596, e-mail a.m.tan@tilburguniversity.edu. A copy of the PhD thesis can be obtained via persvoorlichters@tilburguniversity.edu.

See also the Sustainability File