Electric cars: Are there lower-cost methods of reducing carbon emissions?

Published: Monday, March 18 2013 5:01 p.m. MDT

So if do not care about the cost, an electric car would be the way to go. However, suppose I do care about cost. Imagine I keep my clunker and produce more pollution, but I buy a carbon offset. I need to buy one that actually reduces emissions of CO2 in some other way by an equivalent number of pounds. CO2 offsets trade for between $15 and $40 per metric ton. So I could buy 16,500 pounds of CO2 reduction today for $225 at a price of $30 per metric ton. Over 20 years this would give a reduction of exactly 330,000 pound-years of CO2.

In other words, there are significantly lower-cost methods of reducing carbon emissions than scrapping an otherwise sound older car in favor of buying an electric one.

Kerk Phillips is an associate professor of economics at Brigham Young University. His views do not necessarily represent those of BYU.

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