Chart of the Week: Electric Takeover in Transportation

By IMFBlog

July 31, 2017 

An electric car recharges at a meter in London: The UK is the latest country to announce plans to end fossil fuel vehicle sales by 2040 (photo: Sasha Fox Walters/iStock by Getty Images)

The switch from horses to automobiles in the 20th century paved the way for the rise of oil-based transportation and energy use. Today, electric vehicle ownership is picking up speed. Greater affordability of electric vehicles will likely steer us away from our current sources of energy for transportation, and toward more environmentally friendly technology. And that can happen sooner than you think.

Our Chart of the Week from a recent IMF working paper shows that the transition away from motor vehicles could happen in the next 10 to 25 years, based on parallel shifts in the 20th century. Patterns observed in the early days of the horse-car transition closely resemble present-day electric vehicle adoption rates. Between 2011 and 2015, the average annual growth rate of electric vehicle ownership was 120 percent. This is, in fact, slightly faster growth than that of motor vehicles during a comparable timeframe in the past. Using the horse-car parallel, the paper forecasts that by 2040 motor vehicles could mostly disappear in advanced economies, and could comprise about a third of the fleet of all cars in emerging market and developing economies. Continue reading “Chart of the Week: Electric Takeover in Transportation” »

The Overwhelming Case for a Carbon Tax in China

By Ian Parry and Philippe Wingender

Version in 中文 (Chinese)

A single policy could do it all for China. A carbon tax—an upstream tax on the carbon content of fossil fuel supply—could dramatically cut greenhouse gases, save millions of lives, soothe the government’s fiscal anxieties, and boost green growth. Continue reading “The Overwhelming Case for a Carbon Tax in China” »

Countries Are Signing Up for Sizeable Carbon Prices

Ian Parry-IMFBy Ian Parry

Versions in: عربي Arabic, 中文 Chinese, Français French, 日本語 Japanese,  Русский Russian, and Español Spanish

With global leaders set to start signing the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change tomorrow—April 22 is Earth Day—at the United Nations in New York, countries will embark on the potentially difficult and contentious issue of setting prices for greenhouse gas emissions, most importantly carbon dioxide (CO2). Our back of the envelope calculations show that most large emitters will need to charge anywhere from $50 to $100 per ton or more (in current prices) by 2030 to meet their commitments to reduce carbon emissions.

Continue reading “Countries Are Signing Up for Sizeable Carbon Prices” »

By | April 21st, 2016|climate change, health, International Monetary Fund, oil, technology, trade|

The Price of Oil and the Price of Carbon

By Rabah Arezki and Maurice Obstfeld

(Versions in عربي中文Français日本語,  Русский, and Español)

“The human influence on the climate system is clear and is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system.”Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Fifth Assessment Report

Fossil fuel prices are likely to stay “low for long.” Notwithstanding important recent progress in developing renewable fuel sources, low fossil fuel prices could discourage further innovation in and adoption of cleaner energy technologies. The result would be higher emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Policymakers should not allow low energy prices to derail the clean energy transition. Action to restore appropriate price incentives, notably through corrective carbon pricing, is urgently needed to lower the risk of irreversible and potentially devastating effects of climate change. That approach also offers fiscal benefits.

Continue reading “The Price of Oil and the Price of Carbon” »

By | December 2nd, 2015|Economic research, growth, International Monetary Fund, Reform|

Global Energy Subsidies Are Big—About US$5 Trillion Big

By Sanjeev Gupta and Michael Keen

(Versions in 中文, Français, 日本語Русский and Español)

In their blog, Ben Clements and Vitor Gaspar make the points that global energy subsidies are still very substantial, that there is a strong need for reform in many countries, and that now is a great time to do it. This blog sets out what we mean by “energy subsidies,” provides details on their estimation, and explains how they continue to be high despite the recent drop in international energy prices (Chart 1).

Slide1

Our latest update of global energy subsidies shows that “pre-tax” subsidies—which occur when people and businesses pay less than it costs to supply the energy—are smaller than a few years back. But “post-tax” subsidies—which add to pre-tax subsidies an amount that reflects the environmental, health and other damage that energy use causes and the benefit from favorable VAT or sales tax treatment—remain extremely high, and indeed are now well above our previous estimates.

Continue reading “Global Energy Subsidies Are Big—About US$5 Trillion Big” »

By | May 18th, 2015|Finance, Globalization, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Reform, Uncategorized|

Carbon Pricing: Good for You, Good for the Planet

By Ian Parry

The time has come to end hand wringing on climate strategy, particularly controlling carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.  We need an approach that builds on national self-interest and spurs a race to the top in low-carbon energy solutions. Our findings here at the IMF—that carbon pricing is practical, raises revenue that permits tax reductions in other areas, and is often in countries’ own interests—should strike a chord at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York next week. Let me explain how.

Ever since the 1992 Earth Summit, policymakers have struggled to agree on an international regime for controlling emissions, but with limited success. Presently, only around 12 percent of global emissions are covered by pricing programs, such as taxes on the carbon content of fossil fuels or permit trading programs that put a price on emissions. Reducing CO2 emissions is widely seen as a classic “free-rider” problem. Why should an individual country suffer the cost of cutting its emissions when the benefits largely accrue to other countries and, given the long life of emissions and the gradual adjustment of the climate system, future generations?

Continue reading “Carbon Pricing: Good for You, Good for the Planet” »

Too Much At Stake: Moving Ahead with Energy Price Reforms

By Ian Parry

(Versions in Español中文, 日本語Français, and Русский)

Energy plays a critical role in the functioning of modern economies. At the same time, it’s at the heart of many of today’s pressing environmental concerns—from global warming (predicted to reach around 3–4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century) and outdoor air pollution (causing over three million premature deaths a year) to traffic gridlock in urban centers. In a new IMF book, we look at precisely how policymakers can strike the right balance between the substantial economic benefits of energy use and its harmful environmental side effects.

These environmental impacts have macroeconomic implications, and with its expertise in tax design and administration, the IMF can offer sound advice on how energy tax systems can be designed to ensure energy prices fully reflect adverse environmental impacts.

We do this by developing a sensible and reasonably simple way to quantify environmental damages and applying it, in over 150 countries, to show what these environmental damages are likely to imply for efficient taxes on coal, natural gas, gasoline, and road diesel. For example, the human health damages from air pollution are calculated by estimating how many people are exposed to power plant and vehicle emissions in different countries and how this exposure increases the risk of various (e.g., heart and lung) diseases. Although there are some inescapable controversies in this approach (e.g., concerning the valuation of global warming damages or how people in different countries value health risks), the methodology is flexible enough to easily accommodate alternative viewpoints—it is a starting point for debate, not a final point of arrival.

Continue reading “Too Much At Stake: Moving Ahead with Energy Price Reforms” »

Paying the Price for the Future We Want

One area where the IMF can help to promote sustainable development is by “getting the prices right.” Getting appropriate pricing means, for example, making sure that companies and individuals pay the true cost of polluting our planet. The best way to come up with the true costs is through fiscal instruments, such as environmental taxes or emissions trading systems where governments sell pollution rights, to reflect environmental damages in the prices we pay for energy, food, driving our cars, and so on. Getting the prices right should form the centerpiece of policies to promote green, or environmentally sustainable, development.

Load More Posts