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Ashley Nunes

  • EVs are selling like hotcakes. Don’t rejoice just yet.

    December 2, 2022

    An op-ed by Ashley Nunes: A new age of motoring beckons. In the first nine months of 2022, Americans snapped up nearly 600,000 electric vehicles…

  • The Wrong Americans Are Buying Electric Cars

    November 15, 2022

    Keller Strother got his first Tesla, a Roadster, in 2011. He still has it, though his garage now includes two more Teslas and a vintage…

  • ‘Zero emissions’ from electric vehicles? Why that claim has zero basis

    October 31, 2022

    As California, New York, and other states move to phase out the sale of gasoline-powered cars, public officials routinely echo the Biden administration’s claim that…

  • ‘Zero Emissions’ From Electric Vehicles? Here’s Why That Claim Has Zero Basis

    October 27, 2022

    As California, New York, and other states move to phase out the sale of gasoline-powered cars, public officials routinely echo the Biden administration’s claim that…

  • The truth about the child tax credit

    October 21, 2022

    An article by Ashley Nunes: As Democrats celebrated the recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, their glee was tempered by inaction over a long-standing…

  • Want to Fight Climate Change? Do It Yourself.

    August 30, 2022

    An op-ed by Ashley Nunes: President Biden finally has his climate bill. Earlier this month, America’s 46th president signed the Inflation Reduction Act. The move—which…

  • Illustration of an electric vehicle in a garage.

    Who should drive an electric vehicle?

    August 19, 2022

    Research by Ashley Nunes, Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program fellow, found that many electric vehicle owners are doing more environmental harm than good.

  • Poor mothers get shut out of the Child Tax Credit, our research finds

    May 4, 2022

    An article by Ashley Nunes: With the midterm elections coming, Democrats are trying to push through key legislative priorities — including renewing the child tax credit (CTC), which gives working parents a credit for each child and will expire in December 2025. No one doubts that it will be renewed; the credit has broad bipartisan public support. But what will it look like? That’s less clear. In general, Democrats want an expansive version that sends funds to parents in poverty, as was true briefly during the pandemic; Republicans want to return to a more restrictive version that gives working parents a lower tax bill — which means that people who don’t owe taxes don’t get the benefit. But in January, Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) refused to support the expanded version in the Build Back Better social spending bill, which meant the bill couldn’t pass an evenly divided Senate.

  • Your Tesla is killing the planet

    April 19, 2022

    An article by Ashley Nunes: It’s now or never. That’s the message climate scientists have for politicians, policy wonks and anyone (and everyone) willing to listen. Members of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change say that global carbon dioxide emissions must peak within the next three years to avert the most severe impacts of climate change. Their solution? Action that delivers, “rapid, deep and immediate” emissions cuts. For IPCC leadership, this entails “having the right policies, infrastructure and technology in place.”

  • Electric vehicle parking space marked with a green stencil of the letters

    Current electric vehicles subsidies fail to reduce overall emissions, says Harvard Law study

    April 7, 2022

    Subsidies offered by the federal government for the purchase of new electric vehicles (EVs) may actually increase total greenhouse gas emissions without similar aid for secondhand buyers, concludes a new study led by Ashley Nunes, Ph.D., a fellow at Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program.

  • Re-thinking procurement incentives for electric vehicles to achieve net-zero emissions

    April 5, 2022

    An article co-written by Ashley Nunes: Procurement incentives are a widely leveraged policy lever to stimulate electric vehicle (EV) sales. However, their effectiveness in reducing transportation emissions depends on the behavioural characteristics of EV adopters. When an EV is used, under what conditions and by whom dictates whether or not these vehicles can deliver emissions reductions. Here, we document that replacing gasoline powered vehicles with EVs may—depending on behavioural characteristics—increase, not decrease, emissions. We further show that counterfactual vehicle inventory—how many vehicles a household would own absent an EV purchase—is an important influencer of these effects. We conclude that achieving emissions reductions using EVs requires redesigning procurement incentive programmes in a manner that (re)distributes incentives towards the second-hand EV market. Doing so would not only facilitate emissions reductions but also address fiscal prudency and regressivity concerns associated with these programmes.

  • Be Honest About What EVs Can and Cannot Do | Opinion

    March 31, 2022

    The following is a lightly edited transcript of remarks made by Ashley Nunes during a Newsweek podcast debate about EVs being the future of transportation. ... Electric vehicles seem like a good idea, because we are often told that they're cleaner to drive and cheaper to own. But when you dig a little deeper, a different truth emerges. Are EVs cleaner than existing alternatives? Not in China, or the United States — where major auto markets derive the bulk of their power from coal. Are EVs cheaper to operate? Yes, but only if you hold onto those cars for a longer period of time, because they have higher upfront costs. Proponents of EVs say that things will get better over time, because they've become cleaner, and costs have dropped. But past performance is certainly no guarantee of future return. I'm not saying that driving gas guzzlers is the way to go; I just think that we should be honest with the public about what EVs can and cannot do, particularly when public funds are used to back climate policies.

  • Electric vehicles don’t need gas, but the costs are racking up

    December 8, 2021

    An op-ed by Ashley Nunes: Americans fretting over gas prices could soon be in for relief. OPEC+ — a cartel of countries that controls some 80 per cent of proven oil reserves — last week hiked global production by an extra 400,000 barrels a day. Over a year, that’s enough to fill a large football stadium 53 times over. The result of boosting production? A drop in oil price. And when prices drop, if gas prices follow, consumers are happy. There is an alternative to relying on Saudi Arabia’s generosity: Going electric. When compared with gas guzzlers, electric vehicles (EVs) need less energy to move, which means more miles travelled per dollar spent. Electricity is also cheaper than gas, which delivers further savings. Hence, the White House’s penchant for all things electric. In a recent interview, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stressed that families who buy EVs would, “never have to worry about gas prices again.” Perhaps. The ebb and flow of global oil production — and the ensuing impact on gas prices — admittedly matters little to EV users. Why should it? Foregoing gasoline affords the luxury of being unfazed by gasoline prices. In this regard, the Secretary isn’t wrong to tout EVs’ savings advantage. But his laser sharp focus on one type of saving should also be called out for what it truly is: a fiscal shell game that conveniently embraces one set of truths, while downplaying others.

  • Canada’s new airport testing rules are needlessly confusing

    December 6, 2021

    An op-ed by Ashley Nunes: A bumpy ride awaits Canadian travellers. On Tuesday, Ottawa unveiled new pandemic travel measures that are creating confusion for flyers. The move – spurred by the rise of the highly infectious Omicron variant – will require all incoming passengers from non-U.S. foreign destinations get another COVID-19 test when they land in Canada. The new testing requirement is in addition to the pre-departure test travellers must undergo before leaving for Canada. The move is being touted as necessary to keep Canadians safe. ... Look, I’m all for a science-based approach. Science should inform public policy and we need more scientists working in public policy. I’m also for packing an extra dose of patience. Enduring hardship well is a trait in short supply in public (and political) discourse, and society is poorer because of it. Unfortunately, Ottawa’s new pandemic travel measures aren’t particularly scientific, which has a knock-on effect on my patience. As I write this, I’m in Europe, and heading on a plane back to Canada tomorrow. Despite my best efforts to educate myself, I’m still confused about what to expect when I land.

  • Flying solo: Technology takes aim at co-pilots

    November 28, 2021

    Aircraft pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright had to resort to a coin toss to decide who would attempt the first powered flight, but almost all modern aviation relies on at least two pilots in the cockpit. That could soon change, as airlines and planemakers develop new technology that would rely to a greater extent on automation and eliminate the need for a co-pilot. ... Whether passengers will be willing to use a single-pilot plane depends largely on cost, according to Ashley Nunes, a research fellow at Harvard Law School.“For the average consumer, cash is king. If the price is low enough, you’re going to catch that flight,” he said. “The saga with the Boeing 737 MAX is a great example of this; in the aftermath of that particular event, large groups of consumers said, ‘We’re not going to fly that plane.’ And guess what? They’re flying it today.” But reducing the number of pilots on board may not in fact drive down airlines' costs and allow them to offer cheaper flights, Nunes warned: “There are numerous industries where you remove the human, your costs actually increase because of the amount of safety oversight that is required for the technology."

  • Sure, it would be better if Air Canada’s CEO spoke French, but it’s not essential

    November 8, 2021

    An op-ed by Ashley NunesQuebec’s language quagmire has long been a sore spot for politicians. Last week, Air Canada chief executive officer Michael Rousseau got in on the action. He delivered a near 30-minute speech at the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, during which he spoke in French for some 20 seconds. When later questioned about why – after 14 years in the province – his French language skills weren’t up to par, Mr. Rousseau responded, “I’ve been able to live in Montreal without speaking French, and I think that’s a testament to the city.” The outrage has been swift. Quebec Premier François Legault denounced Mr. Rousseau’s attitude as “insulting.” The province’s Minister Responsible for the French Language, Simon Jolin-Barrette, said that Mr. Rousseau showed “contempt for our language and our culture in Quebec” and subsequently opined that the CEO was “not worthy of his duties.” And then there’s Justin Trudeau. The Prime Minister called Mr. Rousseau’s position “an unacceptable situation,” adding that the Minister of Official Languages is “following up.”

  • Automation Doesn’t Just Create or Destroy Jobs — It Transforms Them

    November 3, 2021

    An op-ed by Ashley Nunes, Labor and Worklife Program fellow: The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of cutting-edge technologies. From contactless cashiers to welding drones to “chow bots” — machines that serve up salads on demand — automation is fundamentally transforming, rather than merely touching, every aspect of daily life. This prospect may well please consumers. Forsaking human folly for algorithmic (and mechanistic) perfection means better, cheaper, and faster service. But what should workers — who once provided these services — expect? Can they also benefit from technological progress? If so, how?

  • Will Canadians with mixed-vaccine doses be blocked from U.S. flights?

    October 1, 2021

    An op-ed by Ashley NunesMany Canadians hoping to visit the U.S. have been nervously eyeing incoming American travel regulations. Starting in November, the Biden administration will require that anyone flying into the U.S be fully vaccinated. Those who don’t comply will be refused entry. At first glance, the move, which is aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 locally, shouldn’t irk Canadians. We have a higher vaccination rate than Americans, and the Canadian government is also set to bring in rules requiring air travellers here to be vaccinated. However, the U.S. has yet to approve the mixing of COVID-19 vaccines, meaning large numbers of Canadians who had two different shots might not be considered vaccinated south of the border.