EI @ Haas Working Paper WP-189 Abstract

Christopher R. Knittel, “The Implied Cost of Carbon Dioxide under the Cash for Clunkers Program” (August 2009) Full Paper


The Cash for Clunker program aims to stimulate the economy, provide relief for automobile manufacturers and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In this research note, I present estimates of the implied cost of carbon dioxide reductions under the Cash for Clunker program. The estimates suggest that the program is an expensive way to reduce greenhouse gases. This is true under a wide range of assumptions regarding the increase in fuel economy of new vehicles purchased under the program, how long the clunkers would have been on the road if not for the program, and whether we account for reductions in criteria pollutants. Conservative estimates of the implied carbon cost exceed $365 per ton; best case scenario parameter values suggest a cost of carbon of $237 per ton.