Journal Article

Initial incidence of carbon taxes and environmental liability: A vehicle ownership approach

May 19, 2020

Energy Policy, Vol. 143, August 2020, 111579

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A German panel data of vehicle and owner characteristics is used to analyse the incidence of additional carbon taxes. It is shown that an additional carbon tax on fuel used for private transportation is regressive when there is no allocation of tax revenue. When smoothing consumption across time in the face of additional carbon taxes, low income households can reduce the tax burden. When the cost of air pollution is included in the metric for the tax incidence, the tax burden decreases considerably. It is also found that in order to charge drivers for the attributed emissions, carbon taxes need to be set at least at €30 per tonne of CO2 emissions. Moreover, the estimated own price elasticities suggest that an additional carbon tax may fail to induce owners of vehicles with an intense usage to reduce energy consumption. Consequently, carbon taxes need to be designed jointly with other taxes to target heavy polluters.