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How The Charger Can Beat The Nozzle

How the Charger Can Beat the Nozzle

charger v nozzleLast year, Americans consumed 385 million gallons of gasoline a day, more than in 2014.   Despite the broader selection of good electric cars, U.S. sales of electric cars declined from 2014 to 2015 to less than 0.6% of total cars sold, while sales of gas-powered cars and SUVs set records.  President Obama’s 2011 goal of 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015 fell short by more than 600,000 vehicles.

As long as there is strong consumer demand for gasoline and gasoline-powered cars, oil producers and gasoline refiners will continue drilling for oil and refining gasoline and enjoying consistent profits and popular support while doing so.

By contrast, sustained and consistent reduction in the demand for gasoline will eventually cause oil production and gasoline refining operations to grind to a halt, regardless of what Congress or Shell Oil decide.

How can a major reduction in consumer demand for gasoline be brought about?

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Interview With Ian Monroe, Founder Of Oroeco, Social Network For Carbon Reduction

Interview with Ian Monroe, Founder of Oroeco, Social Network for Carbon Reduction

ian-monroeIan Monroe is the founder of Oroeco, a pioneering social network focused on voluntary carbon reduction.  I interviewed him regarding the challenges of convincing consumers to reduce their carbon use. The interview has been condensed.

 

Matthew Metz (MNM): What motivated you to start Oroeco?

Ian Monroe (IM):        Part of the motivation is just doing anything and everything I can to help solve climate change.  I grew up on a small organic farm in Northern California and have seen the effects of climate change in drought and wild fires.

I have worked in international development on renewable energy and climate solutions throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. Communities within the fringe of poverty appreciate that climate change is really a social justice and racial justice issue. Climate change  is a tremendous human issue which intersects with everything I care about.

We now have some amazing technology and social networking tools that allow us to connect information with incentives to shift behavior, but we are not really using these technology tools yet to shift our behavior around climate change.

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The Emerging Anti-Gasoline Coalition

coalition graphicA powerful new coalition is emerging to push accelerated phase-out of gasoline.   The coalition is comprised of broad sectors of the public who are demanding clean air, climate activists, clean tech businesses and enthusiasts, and people concerned about the strategic and financial consequences of oil imports.  It has the power  to break the dominance of gasoline as the country’s principal transportation fuel.

The arrival of a new generation of electric and plug-in hybrid cars makes radical reduction of gasoline use feasible.  If social attitudes and morays about personal pollution can be altered, extraordinary change in consumer buying habits and tolerance of gas taxes is possible.

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Bringing Paris Home

logo_copcoltura (3)American households, if mobilized, hold the key to achieving enormous CO2 emissions cuts, well beyond what President Obama is offering at the Paris Climate Conference.

Paris represents the traditional top-down approach to carbon reduction, where leaders at a “summit” announce broad emissions reduction goals which they promise to implement over long time periods.  While climate summits such as Paris are indispensable, their essential complement is a bottom-up commitment of the citizenry to reduce carbon emissions.

The U.S. pledge at Paris is to reduce U.S. CO2 emissions by 28% by 2025 relative to 2005 levels.  This level of reduction can be achieved by closing coal-fired power plants, increasing vehicle efficiency standards, and implementing other measures which will not require new legislation nor significantly affect consumers.   Unfortunately, the U.S. pledge, combined with the anticipated pledges of other nations, will be insufficient to meet the goal of stabilizing global temperatures at 2 degrees above present temperatures by 2050, unless followed by draconian cuts after 2025. In short, we are pledging too little and leaving the hard work until later.

There is a way that emissions cuts can be realized sooner: An enormous, largely untapped source of CO2 emissions cuts is in the hands of citizens like you and me. Households’ use of energy to fuel cars and heat and light homes is responsible for nearly half of all U.S. CO2 emissions.  If the CO2 emitted in the manufacture and transport of consumer goods and services is factored in, consumers account for approximately 71% of all CO2 emissions.  U.S. per capita CO2 emissions are 17 metric tons annually, among the highest in the world, and nearly double the European average.

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Consumer Education Key to Climate Policy Progress

Getting consumers to accept personal responsibility for their carbon usage is a critical step in building a durable political coalition to address climate change.  Consumers who are concerned about their personal CO2 emissions are likely not only to reduce their emissions, they are much more likely to strongly back carbon taxes and other climate-friendly legislation.

Key messages of a consumer-directed campaign include:  “Each gallon of gas you use puts 20 pounds of CO2 into the air,” “the CO2 you put in the air stays in the air,” and “reduce the CO2 that you can, offset what you can’t.”

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