College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Agricultural & Resource Economics

Dr. Anna Alberini - Raising awareness of vehicle emissions and fuel efficiency

Professor Alberini recently featured in The Economist article "Not Easy Being Green"

AREC faculty member Anna Alberini and her co-author Markus Bareit (ETH Zürich) were recently featured in “The Economist.” The article, “Not Easy Being Green” discusses efforts by European nations to raise awareness of the advantages of fuel efficient, low-emitting vehicles. Efforts to promote the sales of these types of cars include rebates, higher registration fees on high-polluting or fuel-inefficient vehicles, and taxes on diesel and gasoline. In Switzerland, for example, several cantons have changed their annual registration fee system, linking the annual fees to the CO2 emissions rate (in grams per kilometer) of the vehicle or to its fuel economy (which is inversely related to the CO2 emissions rate).

Alberini and Bareit use a high-resolution dataset that documents in detail the sales of new cars in Switzerland, and exploit the variation in annual registration fees across Switzerland’s 26 cantons and within cantons over time to see how these changes affect the sale of new cars in 2005-2011. They find that the effects are relatively small, and that the reductions in CO2 emissions attributable to changes in those fees are modest and come at a high cost per ton. 

In her conversation with “The Economist,” Alberini states that drivers likely consider road taxes and higher annual registration fees as less important than higher fuel taxes, since the effect of fees at the pump are felt each time a driver refuels. In another piece authored with Adan Martinez-Cruz (who received his PhD from AREC at the University of Maryland), Markus Bareit and Massimo Filippini, Alberini examines the effects of such registration fee systems on the retirement of old and inefficient vehicles.

 For more information about this study and other findings, go to:

"Not Easy Being Green." The Economist.

"The Effect of Registration Taxes on New Car Sales and Emissions:
Evidence from Switzerland." ETH Zurich Working Paper 16/245.

"The Impact of Emissions-Based Taxes on the Retirement of Used and
Inefficient Vehicles: The Case of Switzerland." ETH Zurich Working Paper 16/257.


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