Reducing vehicle CO2 emissions,

There's a common misconception that in a consumer context, green means more expensive.

In fact that's not always the case. Carbon neutral insurance companies like ibuyeco offset 100% of customers' vehicle emissions, and the policies have been found to be much cheaper compared to other non-green companies.

So even in a credit crunch, we can take positive action on vehicle emissions before 2050, the date by which the government have pledged to cut emissions by 80%.

8 replies

C Robb W. 444°

To reduce vehicle emissions, throw away the ignition key, even better, don't own one.

Offsets are a shell game. Like Smokey the Bear used to say "Only you can prevent....." climate change. You can't pay someone else to do it for you. If you want to support reforestation, support reforestation but it makes no sense to use it to justify continued destructive behaviour.

Written in November 2008

Charles M. 110°

C Robb W: Having a "all good"/"all bad" binary view of the world is not practical. Instead there is a need to be able to explore the grey areas in between with "better than we have now". Without those there is no transition path and any way forward is impractical.

While people should move towards reducing their destructive behaviour, it is quite another to expect people to eliminate that behaviour.

Luckily that also fits with the planet's capabilities too. The planet is able to absorb quite a lot of abuse, perhaps not 100% of our output but at least a large %.

I agree though that buying offsets while continuing with the same level of destructive behaviour is just guilt appeasement if done as a long term strategy. It might make sense if it is part of a short term package that is moving in the correct direction.

Written in November 2008

C Robb W. 444°

I couldn't agree more about some of your point Charles, but not all.

The first step is to be honest with ourselves. It may not be practical but "reduce emissions" still means one thing and one thing only, emitting less. One cannot do that by emitting more and paying someone else to plant a tree. There is no grey area there. On this I think we agree.

Certainly there is a continuum along which we all have to travel. We have to choose the continuum we participate in. If it starts at today and ends up in 2050 with 30% or even 60% reductions in emissions we are hosed. Nothing less that 80% perhaps even 100% reductions are acceptable. Accepting any kind of grey area here is self defeating. The planet will continue to absorb abuse until it creates conditions that bring the abuse to an end. That process is well under way. I'm not sure we agree on this....

We have been aware of the threat since at least James Hansen's speech to Congress in 1988. Since then have our emissions reduced, have they reduced since Kyoto, have they reduced over any 5 year period you care to look at in the last 20 years? The numbers are stark, black and white.
* 391 ppm in 2009?
* 387 ppm in 2008
* 384 ppm in 2007
* 382 ppm in 2006
* 280 ppm at beginning of industrial revolution
* James Hansen at NASA reckons 350ppm is the maximum safe limit!
* The US emits 5 times more Co2 per capita than China and has, up until very recently, been the largest emitter for over a century.

To solve a problem one must find a solution, not pretend that you have. When the numbers start going down we are solving the problem. Binary. I think it is hard to disagree with the numbers.

The sooner we agree that what is needed are massive changes in the way we live our lives the sooner we can progress down a meaningful path to change. Anything less is just kidding ourselves that a slightly modified business as usual solution will do. Don't do it and suffer catastrophic climate change, do it and maybe we will be able to head off the worst effects of our lackadaisical behaviour. This also seems quite binary to me.

But most of us are addicted to comfort and convenience, unwilling to take anything but small steps while we fervently hope that someone, some genius, some government, will fix the problem for us so that we can continue to live the way we do right now. This is fantasy. Some of us realize this some of us don't. However, accept it or not, none of us is perfect, we all can do more.

Behaviour change is required. Eliminating some behaviours is necessary. While this may not be practical tomorrow but we each have to find a way to make it so....soon.

Written in November 2008

Charles M. 110°

Emmissions should be to linked to **consumption** rather than **production**. When you buy those new toys you are causing the emissions to happen, regardless where.

If you do that then a significant % of emissions would be mored from manufacturing economies (China etc) to consumption technologies ( USA etc).

If you don't do that then you really stay in the mode of buying a whipping boy.

Account for emissions properly and the USA probably out emits China by 10:1.

Written in November 2008

C Robb W. 444°

The whipping boy is fossil fuels, and rightly so. If the costs of burning fossil fuels was added to the sale of those fuels by charging the producers directly for the damage they are causing, ie carbon, pollution mitigation, war, social displacement and disease, it would get passed onto the products down the line. The taxpayer should not bear these costs. Adding the costs to 'production' at the source by default should add it to 'consumption'. The problem should be dealt with at the source. This is far simpler than trying to address it at the point of sale. If a product is produced sustainably, whether it is food or electronics, whatever, it will be cheaper.

All products should have built into the price the costs involved in the production, the accounting must include the triple bottom line of environment, equity and economics.

Written in November 2008

Charles M. 110°

You're forgetting other CO2 sources.

You're also hoping that there is a "level playing field" and that all players will act the same.

Here in NZ a lot of the carbon footprint is due to methane output of cows & sheep. There is no "input" cost that can have some taxes linked to it (like you can do with fossil fuels).

My main point is this:
* When you drink a glass of milk or eat a steak you are causing the animal methane that goes with it, regardless of where it comes from in the world.

The problem with doing this at source is that it only works with a level playing field. America, the biggest consumer - and a reasonably large producer, does not want to play the carbon game. That means they get an advantage.

Farmers in a carbon taxing country get disadvantaged in their own market because imported goods might not be taxed.

By taxing consumption you can correct this problem. A carbon taxing country can add a 50c/pound tax to beef regardless of source, thus taxing all effectively.

Written in November 2008

C Robb W. 444°

I think this faces the same continuum problem,taxing consumption is probably the best option in the short term but unless we aim for a level playing field and get a global agreement the overall problem likely won't be solved.

Regarding the meat industry, the producer of the product is held responsible for the emissions, environmental degradation and health effects. Methane being 20 times worse than CO2 would have 20 times the penalty.This would raise the cost of meat and would work much the same as if it were a fossil fuel. It is still dealing with the emissions at the source.

Written in November 2008

Charles M. 110°

I think taxing consumption levels the playing field better at the production end. As the system refines, you tax the consumption less for sustainable choices. That way the incentives flow through the system to the producers.

The methane penalties are already built in to many trading schemes. What gets traded is equivalent CO2, called CO2E or CDE. This makes an incentive for people to release CO2 rather than methane. For example, landfills can burn their methane (hopefully using the waste heat in the process).

Here in NZ livestock are a major CO2E contributor. Each sheep generates the same CO2E as driving 1200km per year. Most of this is methane output and generating CO2 instead would reduce the CO2E to less than 100km per year equivalent. They're working on adding a catalyst bacterium to livestock digestive systems to get the animals to generate CO2 rather than methan, which would be quite a breakthrough.

Written in December 2008

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