Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Kill Bill Volume 3

The United States Senate, after three days of political wrangling, dealt a final blow to the US Climate Change Bill, which sought to cap the production of heat-trapping gases and force polluters to buy permits to emit carbon dioxide.

Indeed there were moving statements such as “the most significant piece of legislation to ever come out of the Environment and Public Works Committee.” and “The future of our planet is at stake.”, and not so moving statements such as “the most important issue facing the world today.” and “What are they afraid of?” While there was clear agreement on the problem at hand, the lack of courage to put in place measures to pull the brakes on consumption, the basis for the high emissions in the US was evident. Arguments that the new bill will cause further increases in the cost of fuel is distorted as it will also cause consumption to fall, hence contribute to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the main driver of climate change. This will in turn save the US economy billions of dollars and of course save our planet, however the key word from the senate debate is not 'save' but 'spend'.

On the roads, however, market pundits are already observing a change in the vehicular habits of Americans, many of which are shifting to smaller and more efficient cars. Car manufacturers in the US are already under pressure to achieve a meager 27.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2011, despite the fact that an average European car already achieves 38.6 mpg and the target for 2008 (yes) is 44.1 mpg for petrol and 51.9 mpg for diesel cars. This significant technological leap was only made possible by a stringent tax regime in Europe which the US is 'afraid' to emulate.

Those threatened by sea level rise, a direct cause of climate change, will sadly have to wait until Quentin Tarantino's classic cult movie moves to Vol. 3, announced since 2004, but yet to be seen or heard.