According to Showing Off the Power of Green in the September 16 New York Times, European automobile manufacturers are finally beginning to produce cars with reduced carbon dioxide emissions.
The industry seems chastised, genuinely repentant, and ready to take
some responsibility — environmental responsibility — for its profligate
ways. The European auto industry in particular has been stung by
criticisms from environmentalists and government regulators that it has
been wasting precious resources and has lost the edge in environmental
leadership to the Japanese. So, the 2007 Frankfurt show aims to prove
just how “green” European carmakers can be.
The article describes new cars from Mercedes, BMW, Volkswagan, Porsche and G.M. Opel, as well as cars from Asian manufacturers such as Nissan and Hyundai, that demonstrate that "green" cars are on the way. OK, "green car" is something of a oxymoron, but the manufacturers are coming out with cars with significantly reduced carbon dioxide emissions. The big question is whether people will buy them and the problem is obvious; people don’t have an economic incentive to reduce the carbon emissions from their cars when they don’t have to pay anything to spew carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The answer is equally obvious; a carbon tax will internalize the costs of vehicle carbon dioxide emissions and help to move "green" cars from the showroom to the streets. Of course, even greater benefits will occur when a carbon tax provides an incentive for people to drive less, bike more, walk more and travel by public transportation.