Voluntary Exposure Benefits and the Costs of Climate Change

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Researcher Profile

Benjamin Leard


Topics of Interest

Ben Leard's research covers several areas of environmental and energy economics, with a particular focus on distributional issues in climate change policy and regulation in the transportation sector. His work on climate change has evaluated the tradeoffs between efficiency and distributional outcomes of several mechanisms for promoting emissions reductions from carbon offsets in cap-and-trade programs. In his work on transportation, Leard explores how fuel economy standards may impact consumers differently depending on the variation in consumer preferences for vehicle attributes.


PhD in applied economics and management, Cornell University, 2014

BS in mathematics and economics, James Madison University, 2008

Recent Work

See all work by Benjamin Leard



Benjamin Leard in the News

  • The Washington Post

    Driverless Cars May Be Appealing. But They Could Be Used Against Us.

    "There are some obvious obstacles to this seductive future. Under favorable circumstances, it would take years to materialize. There are roughly 250 million cars and other light-duty vehicles (pickups, SUVs) on the road. In a good year, the industry sells 17 million vehicles. Even if, beginning in 2018, all these were driverless, it would be 15 years before today’s fleet is replaced.

    And these assumptions are, of course, unrealistic. 'Some people actually like driving,' says economist Benjamin Leard of the think tank Resources for the Future. Most won’t be customers for driverless vehicles. Neither will many Americans who don’t trust the reliability of self-driving vehicles. That’s about 60 percent of the public, reports an opinion survey conducted by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of Sustainable World Transportation, a research group at the University of Michigan.

    Still other potential customers may be deterred by the high costs of all the needed sensors, cameras, computer chips and software. With present technology, this could add $10,000 to the cost of new vehicles, though that is expected to decline with time, says Leard."

  • Health Day | Aug 31, 2017

    Will Climate Change Bring More Highway Deaths?

    "Another expert agreed that climate change is playing a part in increased traffic deaths.

    'We find a large and significant relationship between warmer weather and more traveling by walking, biking or motorcycling, which is more dangerous than driving in a car,' said Benjamin Leard, a fellow at the think tank Resources for the Future.

    He has studied the relationship between global warming and traffic deaths.

    Reducing deaths can be accomplished by making roads safer, Leard said. This includes reducing speed limits and replacing dangerous intersections with traffic circles that slow traffic, he said."

  • Jalopnik | May 10, 2017

    Americans Are Willing To Pay Almost $5,000 For Autonomous Car Tech, Smart People Say

    "The study, written in our favorite scientific journal, Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies, by Richardo Daziano of Cornell, Mauricio Sarrias of Universidad Catolica del Norte in Chile, and Benjamin Leard of Resources for the Future, asked 1,260 people from around the country a number of questions in a “discrete choice experiment focused on energy efficiency and autonomous features.”

    After running the data from the responses through several models (you can read all about their methodology in their full report), the study estimated that the average American household would be willing to spend $3,500 on partial automation and $4,900 on fully autonomous car tech. This, of course, is in addition to the already high prices of new cars today."

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