Evaluating Heterogeneity in Household Travel Response to Carbon Pricing: A Study Focusing on Small and Rural Communities

Vermont has a goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 75% by 2050 but Vermont’s GHG emission have been increasing since 2011. Transportation is Vermont’s largest source of GHG emissions. Vermont along with 11 northeastern and mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia have joined the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) to cut GHG emissions from transportation through a regional carbon cap and invest program. A concern for Vermont, and other rural states, is that TCI may disproportionately impact the welfare of rural households because rural households may be more automobile dependent and less able to adapt. While the proceeds from TCI emission allowance auctions could be used to mitigate inequities, data to understand welfare impacts and the effectiveness of investment decisions is lacking for rural communities. The aim of this research project is therefore to collect new information about household travel behavior, how households may respond to increased transportation fuel costs, and information about real and perceived barriers to avoiding higher transportation fuel costs in diverse rural communities. This project will provide Vermont and other rural states with new information that can be used to help design investment strategies that maximize program effectiveness while mitigating possible inequities. 

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