Thursday, April 16, 2009

Carbon neutral is a stupid idea

Paul Gilding is an environmental business expert from Australia. his view is that we have a 'very big problem" which can only be tackled by changing human behaviour. He suggests we need to eliminate CO2 emissions and material growth consumption.


Perhaps Paul is a pessimist -one who is never wrong- "...see i told you so" or "oops It is not as bad as I thought".


I prefer a different model. We cant go on emitting CO2 and carbon neutral is a stupid idea. We need to become carbon negative. To do this we need new fuels and energy sources and newer break through technologies to make this happen.


Humans are very bright. We need incentives, creative and innovative thinking, economic incentives, life style incentives (as opposed to environmental),research and industrial manufacturing conditions to do this..


Realistically material growth is not going to slow but it may be different.  We have gone through some interesting cycles of product size. for example large radios and record players to CD players to larger Boom boxes and now back to miniaturisation with Ipods and MP3 players. Cars similarly started off small, became big then small, then big again and now small and even ultra small (the new PUMA). There are many examples where energy is saving and CO2 emissions can be reduced or eliminated.


Economic instruments such as carbon trading just make it more expensive for "dirty" industries to operate. With an increase in the price of carbon credits business will find it cheaper to reduce emissions. A similar example works in cities where by some industries are charged on the level of their BOD discharge into sewerage systems when this became too expensive they invested in onsite treatment or controlled the amount of BOD being used.


Yes humans are bright and good decision makers when we need to be. What we need is the right incentives to do so. Mind you by changing our values and adjusting our behaviours can help as well. we just need the right framework of incentives to make it work.

No comments: