The Environmental Effect of Green Taxation: the Case of the French “Bonus/Malus”
At the beginning of 2008 was introduced in France a feebate on the purchase of new cars called the “Bonus/Malus”. Since January 2008, less polluting cars benefit from a price reduction of up to 1,000 euros, while the most polluting ones are subject to a taxation of 2,600 euros. We estimate the impact of this policy on carbon dioxide emissions in the short and long run. These emissions depend on the market shares and the average emissions per kilometer of each car, but also on their manufacturing, car fleet size and the average number of kilometers travelled by their owners. We first develop a simple tractable model that relates car choice and mileage. We then estimate this model, using both the exhaustive dataset of car registrations and a recent transportation survey which provides information on individual journeys. We show that if the shift towards classes benefiting from rebates is spectacular, the environmental impact of the policy is negative. The reform has notably increased sales, leading to an important increase in manufacturing and travelling emissions. We thus stress that such policies may be efficient tool for reducing CO2 emissions since consumers do react to such financial incentives, but should be designed with care to achieve their primary goal.