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Cash for Clunkers: “Environmental Effects Will Be Negligible”

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The Cash for Clunkers program is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Photo by ThreadedThoughts.

The Cash for Clunkers program, which gives consumers up to a $4,500 discount when they trade in their old vehicle for a newer, more fuel-efficient one, will have little impact on fuel use or carbon emissions, according to new research from Lee Schipper, the founder of EMBARQ and longtime contributor for TheCityFix.

Schipper and his colleagues — Joel Mehler from Stanford University, Brian Gould of GMS, and Chris Ganson from the World Resources Institute — published their research in an op-ed that ran in The Washington Post’s Sunday paper.

What did they find out?

The program will save less than two days worth of carbon dioxide emissions projected between now and 2019. Merely a drop in the bucket when it comes to curbing global warming.

People are likely to use their shiny new cars more than their clunkers — so CO2 savings are offset by increased driving.

The new cars aren’t really that much more fuel efficient than the cars currently sold in the United States. So what’s the point?

“A better program would have pinned the reward to a calculation of fuel savings based on the remaining life of the clunker and the miles per gallon of the clunker and the new car,” the authors write. “The math is simple, but Congress is run by lawyers!”

Access the full article, plus charts and graphs, here.

Related news stories:

Critics Say ‘Clunkers’ Program Isn’t Very Green
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Cash for Clunkers: How Green Is It?
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`Cash for clunkers’ effect on pollution? A blip

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Doing the ‘Clunker’ Calculus
August 7, 2009
New York Times