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Congestion Pricing Will Help Stop Climate Change — But Differently Than You Think

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Will congestion pricing deter climate change? I ponder that a lot, both as an ordinary citizen and as founder-director of the Carbon Tax Center, which promotes robust carbon taxes as a central policy for eliminating fossil fuels. My answer is: Yes — though perhaps not in the ways you might think.

The most sweeping congestion pricing plan proposed for New York City, Move NY, will cut tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, by an estimated 950,000 metric tons a year. A little over half of that reduction, 55 percent, results from fewer auto trips from the toll disincentive along with transit improvements funded by toll revenues. The remaining 45 percent comes from smoothed traffic flow, as the lessening in stop-and-go traffic translates into better fuel economy and, thus, lower per-mile emissions. (Figures are from my downloadable BTA spreadsheet model.)

Official city data peg total NYC emissions of

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