RE: WorldTransport Forum CARBON PRICING AND DRIVING.
A bit more explanation (the diagrams were not mine but can be seen in each nation’s inventory). Chris raises other good points.
The “fossil fuels”, e.g., fuel cycle burden for fuels AND electricity from power stations should be distributed. The IEA provides it that way if you like. Agree cars may show up there, but no one thinks the numbers will be big for a very long time because most (sane) electric cars will be small, slow, and stay close to home.
Manufacturing is decidedly NOT 1/3 automobiles – I don’t have the full inventory, but per $ autos are NOT carbon intensive products – while they contain a few thousand dollars of raw materials, increasingly they contain knowledge – computers etc – whose carbon footprints per $ of value are small. And ( fortunately) most of our economy does not engage in making motor vehicles. (I’m counting imported cars here implicit). Missing from our manufacturing is the CO2 for making a few hundred billion dollars of surplus imports, mostly from China..
Land Use and biomass burning – aka deforestation – is less significant in the US but VERY significant in brasil. Either CO is released when we till or burn existing biomass, OR the capacity to absorb CO2 is reduced when we chop down valuable forests unsustainably for wood or clear any kind of plant material for development or just less CO2 absorbing activities, like raising beef.
The residential and commercial – density connection is a good one. American’s have 65 sq meters per person of home living space, subsidized by almost unrestricted deduction of mortgage interest from taxes – at least until mortgages became worthless an important stimulus of larger homes and, imho, greater sprawl to find room for larger homes.
Agriculture in the US IS a facet of our lifestyles (see Oct 12 NY Times Sunday mag on this matter) – not simply the amount of beef we eat, but the way we eat it that requires so much force fed, aka feedlot beef. California grows rice on subsidized water, and what we don’t’ grow we bring in from around the world. (Not to let Asia off the hook, but rice growing is a major GHG/ methane source, so are cows and sheep down under etc).
The “problem” is not simply that Americans are for the most part rich, rather they are careless and have turned to carbon intensive ways of both producing and consuming wealth. That may begin to change for many reasons, both the high cost of oil and sadly the high cost of living the way we live, which others call the financial meltdown!
Lee Schipper, Ph.D
Global Metropolitan Studies
2614 Dwight Way 2nd floor
University of California Berkeley 94720-1782
+1 510 642 6889,
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From Oct. 1, also
Senior Research Engineer
Precourt Institute for Energy Efficiency
Analyst Emeritus, EMBARQ,
the WRI Center for Sustainable Transport
Although you are correct that the transportation is not the largest, the
chart is confusing about just how it stacks up against other sectors.
First, it has a category for "fossil fuels" to cover the retrieval and
processing to get the carbon-based fuels to the customers. This should be
redistributed to the various individual-choice sectors: space heating,
industrry, transportation, agriculture.
Second, the manufacturing sector is probably at least 1/3 for the
manufacture of automobiles and related replacement and after-market items.
"Waste disposal and treatment" must include disposal of automobiles
(although not as large a proportion). A regime that promotes carsharing,
for instance, can greatly reduce manufacturing more dramatically than
Third, "Land Use and Biomass Burning" is unfathomable.
Fourth, "Power stations", on the eve of the plug-in electric cars, will
increase to fuel the new car models.
Fifth, the "residential, commercial" (must be for space heating) is closely
related to the amount of space each person 'acquires,' which is less for
people living in more dense environments. And with more other people living
nearby and less space to store personal 'stuff,' a shift to higher density
should reduce consumption, even if wealth (as it should) increases as a
result. Of course, such living arrangements will shorten regular trips by
as much as 90%, making the small-footprint modes more natural and practical.
The only sector not affected by 'lifestyles' (low-density living,
consumption-reflects-success orientation) is "agricultural."
However, other spin-off effects of new lifestyle and value choices --
organic foods, 100-mile diets, slow foods, and healthy eating -- all might
be facilitated by a shift to walking-cycling-transit and to more compact,
mixed use living. All will contribute to lower carbon emissions via
fertilizers, transportation, or human flatulence.