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10 simple measures against global warming

by Alex in Toulouse Thu Jun 29th, 2006 at 11:32:33 AM EST

The RAC (Réseau Action Climat - Climate Action Network) has issued a communiqué suggesting 10 simple measures to implement in the programs of all democratic parties enrolled in the 2007 presidential elections.

Link in French.

Measures listed below the fold, with some details added by your humble servant (but I got lazy, so it's best you all just learn French and read the PDF linked to below).

For more detailed descriptions (costs of measures, political possibilities, current regulations, etc etc) read the accompanying PDF file (in French).


1. Thermic regulation in new and old lodgings for heating and sanitary hot water (energy coming from renewables not targetted)

Lodgings represent 19% of France's greenhouse gases emissions.

With 300 000 new lodgings built every year, the ratio of renewal for all lodgings is less than 1% per year. Thus the majority of lodgings which will exist in 2050 has already been built and cannot be ignored: old lodgings have to be included in thermic regulation.

Heating in itself represents an average consumption of 120 kWh/m2/year in new lodgings, vs 330 for old ones => the measure aimes at bringing this down to 50 kWh/m2/year for heating (and 15 for sanitary hot water in offices, 30 for residential lodgings).

Measures for old lodgings can be financed through tax reductions, low interest loans etc.

Estimated savings: 34 million petrol-equivalent-tons per year.


2. General lowering of speed limits on roads.

A lowering of 10km/h at every different road level (highway and lower).

Estimated savings: 1.25 million tons of fuel per year, and 4 million tons of C02 (which represents 3% of the transport sector's current emissions, a sector which itself 26% of France's emissions)

3. Transfer funds collected for parking spaces to local authorities, with the obligation of using those funds to finance carbon-sober public transportation modes, cyclist paths, etc

This is a measure that needs to be placed in context: in a current decentralisation frenzy, the State will no longer give 1/7th of the amounts required for public transport projects in localities.

For info, CO2 emissions in town, by transportation mode:
Walking, roller, bicycle: 0g CO2/km
Tramway, Subway : < 10 g CO2/km
Bus: average 75g CO2/km
Two-wheel motorized vehicles: 100 g CO2/km
Car: 175g CO2/km

Taking your bicycle for all your short distance travels in town, represents an average of 500 kg to 1 ton of C02 saved by cyclist, per year.

Last info:
For 100 people working in a company with car parking space, the C02 emissions on their home-work-home travels is an average of 144 tons. For 100 people working in a company with no car parking, this average goes down to 96 tons.

4. Reduce unitary consumption of vehicles

The EU has signed a non-binding accord with manufacturers stating that in 2008 new vehicles will have to limit their emissions to 140g of CO2 per km. A (binding) directive is needed to limit emissions to 120g, and to also implicate two-wheel and utility vehicles (that so far are kept out of the non-binding accord)

Estimate savings: on transportation alone, if the 120g mark is reached, once the entire vehicle fleet is renewed (15 years), savings of 48 million equivalent tons of CO2 per year (with 24 million after 7 years).


5. Make strict energy efficiency a requirement for all appliances.

In Canada and the USA, 15 to 20 different types of appliances are subject to strict energy efficiency regulations. For now in the EU only fridges, freezers, and neon tubes are concerned!

Estimated savings (no conversion into C02 is possible): 22.1 TWh in France alone, and only in the residential sector (not offices).


6. Regulation against excess nitrogen

In France Agriculture represents about 19% of all emissions. One culprit among others: Nitrous Oxide (N20) is the most potent gas emitted by the industry, and is released primarily (ie. at 90%) during fertilization (1/3rd by animal waste, 2/3rs by mineral fertilizers).

This measure aims at giving financial bonuses to farmers releasing little nitrogen, and taxing those who release too much. It would also have a lot of parallel effects (reducing water pollution etc).

Estimated savings: does not include manufacturing, 24 million equivalent tons of CO2 per year.


7. Regulation on advertising that promotes energy-hungry products

According to a Nov. 2005 law, car-selling shops will now have to indicate clearly the emissions of their cars.

This measure aims at furthering this law by also requiring that all advertising for cars should now also state clearly emission levels for the product being advertised.


8. Train professionals in climate change issues

I won't go into too much detail here, but the idea is that part of the problem is that professionals in the construction sector, the transport sector, the agricultural sector etc etc, are simply not trained to understand climate issues, and that from now on some types of diplomas/cursii should require such training.

Financial Institutions

9. Stop public funding of fossil fuel energies (redirect this funding to carbon-sober projects)

Well, in 2005 the World Bank financed 2.1 billion dollars of fossil-fuel projects, vs 0.2 billion renewable energy projects, etc etc (I'm getting too lazy to translate the key points of the PDF document, and Jérôme certainly already knows a lot on this issue and can do it for me).

Estimated savings: all we know is that the fossil-fuel projects financed by the World Bank over the past 12 years have amounted to emissions of 43.4 billion tons of CO2.


10. Reform the fiscality of ecology

French fiscality predates climate change and global warming, and is thus not made to incite emission reductions.

All the measures that go in here are quite classic:
Kerosene tax, no more subsidizing low-cost operators, etc

One note: fuel required to travel 100km costs twice less in 2004 than it did in 1960, and electricity costs less in 2004 than it did in 1978 ... meaniwhile the price of a regular-traveller coupon on the Paris subway has doubled (inflation substracted) from 1975 to 2004. It is thus urgent that this be inversed. Tax tax tax aerial transport and road delivery (and lower prices of public transport?)

Estimated savings: for a 40 euro tax per ton of C02, 16% reductions were calculated (82 million equivalent tons of CO2).

Just one remark: I never read the entire "Energize America" plan, being jealous that it wasn't about France ;)

So basically I have no idea if the RAC's "simple measures for a political program" will appear commonplace & redundant to Jérômes trained eye, or whether he'll have something to add to Energize America after reading them.

Knowing full well, of course, that the Energy issue cannot be tackled the same way in the USA and in France (or Europe for that matter).

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jun 29th, 2006 at 11:35:34 AM EST
is less specific on a number of topics, in order to let people make choices freely, but informing them and giving them proper incentives.

For instance, we don't mandate car emission or fuel consumption numbers, but have variable penalties/incentives for cars that do worse/better than the average.

We don't set numbers for house consumption, but provide incentives for people to do investment in that sector, and mechanisms to help them capture (via lower payments) the energy gains they make.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 30th, 2006 at 05:56:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One thing I don't quite understand though, is that if you add up the estimated savings of these measures (for those that have an "estimate savings" indicated), you end up saving almost as much (if not more) as what France emits every year.

Fanatics, I tell ya!

ps; the reason probably being that emissions due to imports are not included in France's tally?

pps: indeed, the RAC estimates France's emissions at close to 500 million equivalent tons of CO2, while official numbers place France nearer the 200 million mark???

Am I reading all this upside-down or what?

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Jun 29th, 2006 at 12:07:03 PM EST
'carbon sober' is a very useful meme.

it conjures up the imho accurate metaphor of the fossil fuel extravaganza as a civilisational bender, a planet-wide fratboy kegger that has left us all badly hung over and the house (biosphere) trashed.  it sketches fossil squandering as a binge behaviour, reckless and autopathic as well as sociopathic;  and characterises wildeyed cornucopianism and Fossil Fairytales (peak oil and climate denialism, abiotic fringers etc) as inebriated optimism... all in one neat and tidy little phrase.  I like it.  time to carbon-sober up :-)

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jun 29th, 2006 at 04:30:04 PM EST
Beyond excellent diary.

I've done enough time behind the screen, but I really want to comment on this thoroughly - and more. This is was supposedly the direction I was going to pursue - but I kept stuck in sidetracks.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Thu Jun 29th, 2006 at 05:55:09 PM EST
Merci! (Possibly the upper limit of my command of the French language)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Jun 30th, 2006 at 03:43:10 AM EST
  1. Makes sense to impose tough norms for new buildings. They need to be more specific for old dwellings (EA has more on this)

  2. OK. Actually enforcing existing speed limits has had an even bigger impact. That needs to be continued.

  3. This is a complex topic. Eliminating free parking space is the single most effective known way to cut traffic in cities. Linking money for public transport to parking money is possibly not too smart. Let's increase financing for public trnasport and bike paths, full stop.

  4. See my comment above on the EA approach, which is to give incentives to purchases of fuel efficient cars, and penalties for purchase of less efficient vehicles (and moving the bar up along the way). France has actually introduced (it comes into force tomorrow) a tax on high-carbon emissions vehicles: at 2EUR/g aboe 200g/km, it's still pretty low, but it's a first step.

  5. Yes. Or simply force the information to be made availabe. That has worked wonders for those appliances that were subject simply to information rules.

  6. Maybe we should start with enforcing existing rules on farmers, as they are openyl flouted. I'll believe laws that put constriants on farmers when I see that enforcement...

  7. Yes. Make the info visible. Regulation on ads would be smart and might work in Europe.

  8. Absolutely. and train children to be energy-aware at school, and train all of us to be.

  9. That one I am a lot more ambivalent about. Without World Bank financings, the projects will still happen, but with a much worse environmental and social impact. The WB does have an influence there, which it does put to good use nowadays. It should massively increase its lending to renewable energy projects, but the two issues need not be linked.

  10. Yes, but politically hard to implement, as we know. But taxes on carbon and gas would be the simplest, most effective measures - and they would help fund investment in renewable energy, and pay to help the poorest that suffer from the higher energy prices.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 30th, 2006 at 06:11:25 AM EST
EA's approach appears similar to measure 6. (ie. penalize offenders but also give incentives to followers, thus giving people a choice), which I think is good.

About point 7. it really makes sense. Fuel cars after all are as harmful as cigarettes for us (and incredibly harmful to the planet), so if we make the info available for the latter, why not do it for the former?

by Alex in Toulouse on Fri Jun 30th, 2006 at 06:32:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Btw, about the new French tax, at 2EUR/g above 200g/km, is this 2 euros per year?
by Alex in Toulouse on Fri Jun 30th, 2006 at 06:36:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, one shot on purchase.

60 euros on a EUR 35,000 Audi TT is not very much yet...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 30th, 2006 at 06:54:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On 3. I assume this is per person? Otherwise it's meaningless.

Also, about oil use, what is the compared efficiency of "end-product" measures (tax on cars, on speed, parking, nitrogen emissions) vs tax the oil/nitrogen at the source?

For example, taxing vehicule fuel in some way taxes more those who are speeding, use inefficient cars, use more their car because of parking. Also taxing vehicule fuel is inexpensive on the administrative cost side, taxing all other ways look more expensive to me.

So are these measures it worth the cost against just raising taxes on vehicule fuel?

I don't know the answer, but I believe it's worth thinking about that.

by Laurent GUERBY on Sun Jul 2nd, 2006 at 07:53:38 AM EST
FYI, here is the link to the measures to help stop global warming laid out in Gore's new movie.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Sun Jul 2nd, 2006 at 12:44:19 PM EST

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