Proof That Car-Sharing is Cheaper Than Free

New Oregon analysis points to cost-effective climate solutions.

When you say “greenhouse gas marginal abatement cost curve” I say “where do I sign up?”

I guess that’s why I was interested in Oregon’s look at the cost-effectiveness of various carbon reduction strategies. Despite the fact that the new analysis weighs in at over 400 pages and is tangled up with altogether too much econowonk-speak, there are a few pretty interesting findings. Chief among them: car sharing ranks as the very cheapest thing Oregon can do to reduce carbon emissions.

In fact, car sharing is so cheap that it actually has a negative cost to the state’s economy. (“Negative cost” is the kind of thing that economists like say when something makes money.) Granted, car-sharing programs aren’t likely to result in huge reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, but they do their part—and you can’t really argue with the price.

Sightline worked hard on car sharing, and we’re proud to have played a role this year in persuading the states of Oregon and Washington to legalize personal car sharing. You can read even more about our work on car sharing in our “Pimp Your Ride” series: I, 2, 3, and 4. And you can find out more about how car sharing is flourishing in Northwest cities here and here.

Oregon’s report details a large number of additional carbon solutions that are also cheaper than free. It turns out that many of the very best buys are near and dear to Sightline’s heart, including pay-as-you-drive car insurance; shifting short trips from vehicles to muscle power; and parking management techniques.

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