30 September 2015

A United Front

Is this how we want it? 

One thing the automobile industry doesn't see before it is a pathway forward. As with all human endeavour, decisions are hamstrung by self interest and a lack of meaningful cooperation. Los Angeles takes it's own road trying to reduce pollution. It is a city with a serious smog situation as with many others. Some cities in Europe such as London and Paris also have an air quality issue and progress toward cleaner air seems to have stalled. Seeing that current measures aren't winning the war, what could be done better?

A clear focus. There is no clear pathway forward on what the future fuel should be and therefore no attempt can be made to nurture its acceptance and take up. Public power points for electric cars is a help, but when the vehicle's purchase price is too high and the range per charge up too low for many, it won't get broad acceptance. Battery disposal is another issue.

Hydrogen fuel cell cars seem to be a way forward but where are the fuel stations? Car makers cannot release these cars without the availability of a functioning refuelling network. No one seems to be taking any of this seriously. The way forward is to let all of this take its natural course thorough market forces or random emissions standards. Well, fracking and reduced prices has made fossil fuel propulsion even more difficult to dislodge. (Alternative fuels are discussed here).

Do something! Government intervention is needed but a unified effort too. The EU could have been at the forefront but all it has done is insist on lower CO2 emissions and told the car industry to meet them. What a ridiculous policy! The industry cannot meet endless reductions, so what are they supposed to do? (More on this can be found here).

Surely a better solution is tax fossil fuel car ownership and use that money to build an infrastructure to support alternatively fuelled vehicles. That coupled with incentives to purchase and run these vehicles to encourage ownership. The fossil fuel tax could be increased each year to keep the revenue stream going. People would then switch once there is a genuine alternative that isn't too expensive or inconvenient to use.

Summary: Without any clear direction forward you soon get lost. Moving away from fossil fuel seems just such a journey. The car industry operating in a capitalist system is supposed to find a way. However, consumer spending and profit is the carrot on the stick for any industry so we can't rely on that.

United governance is needed to send mankind on the way forward. Unfortunately there is no good track record on that one, as self interest and the next election is all that drives democratic governments. Unity of purpose is nothing more than a fanciful dream for idealists.

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