This thesis is about car taxes as an instrument in climate policy. There is an on-going discussion to what extent such indirect policy instruments are effective, i.e. having the intended effects. The case I am using to illustrate this discussion is an approaching change in the passenger car tax system in Norway, which will be presented 6 October 2006 as a part of the National budget. Basically the change implies an introduction of a CO2 component in the car taxation system. The objective is to differentiate the taxes according to the car s environmental characteristics, so people get an economic incentive to purchase cars with low average emissions. The target is to achieve an emissions reduction from the passenger car sector.
This case in analyzed within the theoretical framework of Michel Foucault s concept of governmentality and Thomas P. Hughes concept of large technological systems . I have interviewed actors in the field in order to get a grasp of the process, the actors involved and possible effects of the new system. The different actors have quite heterogeneous expectations to the new system, in terms of scenarios and effects, both intended and unintended. It is suggested that the consequences partly are determined by the how the new system will be arranged.
The implications of using car taxes as an instrument in climate policy are many and complex, and it is concluded that changing the car tax system is only a very small step in the right direction. There is a contradiction between the actual needs for governing the negative outputs from technological system of the car, and contemporary political practices. Modern government (i.e. governmentality ), especially in environmental issues, is signified by passive, fragmented government bodies which use indirect economic policy instruments. I argue that in order to transform car taxes into an effective policy instrument and thus achieve emissions reductions, we must bridge the gap between the complexity of the technological system of the car on the one hand, and the contemporary government(ality) practices on the other. Keywords: governmentality , technological systems, car taxes, climate policy