Working Group on Assessment of Policies for Long-Term Transition to Sustainable Transport

With global warming a major political issue internationally, many countries have developed policies and initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions. Since transport generates significant amount of CO2 emissions, many strategies have been identified and implemented in order to mitigate transport emissions. In particular, since road vehicles are the source of most transport CO2 emissions, initiatives to reduce CO2 emission from cars themselves, and more recently from trucks, and to shift mobility to other traffic modes have been emphasized in many places. Greenhouse gas emissions are not the only external environmental effect of transport. NOx, PM and noise emissions all have major impacts and there are often trade-offs to be made between measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and measures to mitigate other emissions.

Most governments assess the cost-effectiveness of interventions to mitigate environmental impacts to aid decision making on the allocation of resources to environmental protection. The very long time scales for both climate change impacts and the delivery of some potential technological and behavioural mitigation measures complicates assessment and poses difficult technical problems in relation to discounting the future and dealing with risk and uncertainty. Factoring low probability but potentially extremely severe climate impacts into the analysis is problematic, as is evaluating the benefits of investing in large scale promotion of technologies as yet commercially unproven.

There is also a significant gap between estimates of the costs of climate change and adaptation, often summarised as a shadow price of CO2, and the cost of abatement measures to reach political targets set for reducing CO2 emissions in some countries and regions. The more ambitious targets imply elimination of fossil fuel use in transportation. Prospective costs of the alternative technologies required are well above higher end estimates of the shadow price of CO2. Views are divided on how and when support for such transformative technology should be provided. Views are also divided on the priorities for intervention between support for specific technologies and broader policies towards modal choice and land use development.

The working group aims to review national approaches to assessing climate change mitigation policies and coherence with policies to mitigate other emissions. The review will include approaches to assessing co-benefits in relation to oil security and to industrial development and competitiveness policies (green growth). In this context, the work also aims to identify the limitations of cost benefit analysis (CBA) for assessing policies to mitigate climate change and examine what additional analytical tools might be useful. The working group will learn from countries’ experience of climate policy assessment by taking specific cases of policy initiatives and applied policy analysis.

Key questions to be addressed

• How should we understand the relationship between two different approaches in relation to carbon value – social cost approach and abatement cost approach?
• How to deal with low-probability but high-risk events, potentially irreversible changes, and large uncertainties in future climate impacts in climate policy assessment?
• What discount rate should we use in assessing long-term climate policy?
• Should the carbon value be the same or different across countries, across sectors, across modes?
• Should the CBA be appropriate to assess climate policy?


Working group members

Mr. Jeffrey Johnson, Transport Canada
Professor Steen Leleur, DTU, Denmark
Mr. Jean-Jacques Becker, Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, France [Chair]
Professor Hironori Kato, University of Tokyo, Japan
Mr. Anco Hoen, PBL, Netherlands
Dr. Hans Nijland, PBL, Netherlands
Ms. Erin Wynne, Ministry of Transport, New Zealand
Mr. Lars Nilsson, Swedish Transport Administration
Dr. Vadim Donchenko, NIIAT, Russia
Dr. Catharina Horn, BMBVS, Germany
Mr. Kilian Frey, Federal Environmental Agency, Germany
Ms. Carole LeBlanc, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), USDOT

External experts

Emile Quinet, ENPC and Paris School of Economics, France
Svante Mandell, VTI, Sweden
Stephen Smith, University College London
Bruno Faivre D’Arcier, LET, France
Ian Parry, IMF
Ben Groom, LSE, UK
Nils Axel Braathen, OECD Environment Directorate
Kurt Van Dender, OECD Centre for Tax Policy
Mark Freeman, Loughborough University, UK
Cees Withagen, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Elizabeth Kopits, USEPA
Marc Ivaldi, University of Toulouse, France
Nicolas Treich, University of Toulouse, France
Antony Millner, LSE, UK
David Meunier, LVMT, France
Stef Proost, KU Leuven, Belgium

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