How to be green – drive a rust bucket

20130624-193052.jpg A lot of time and effort goes into reducing car use in cities – Singapore has odd and even days on rego numbers, London’s Congestion Charge has been in place for 10 years. It has even been muted that the European Commission will ban all cars in all European cities by 2050.

But, I have discovered a better way and it focuses on human behavior, which we know is the secret to emission reduction.

The Choice
It came to me when I was heading to work last week for my early morning run. It’s winter in Sydney and at 6am I always stop by my car and contemplate whether to walk in the cold upto the station or jump in the car and drive. At 6am the driving option is quicker and warmer.

After a few wasted minutes (it was probably seconds) I chose walk up to the station and catch the train, yes it would take 15 minutes longer but I would get to read a kindle book, or do some work or write a post.

As I was walking up to the station it dawned on me that when I was driving a nice sporty, heat seated, air conditioned stereo blasting car I wouldn’t have even paused to contemplate the choice. I would have been tearing up the road, being an idiot with a grin on my face. Yep, I used to be even more of a hypocrite!

But now, I have the ‘family car’ I usually drive under sufferance – public transport is better than driving the old, slow family car.

Make the other one worse, not this one better
The car was worse than public transport – lightbulb – a cunning plan to reduce car use and increase public transport.

When you ask people about why they drive rather than take public transport the answers are usually around convenience, cleanliness, ease of use and sometimes ‘I like driving’.

We then tend to focus on if the car is better, how could we make public transport better, cleaner, more convenient?

But we are focusing on the wrong thing. Rather than making public transport better, make driving worse.

Drive a rust bucket” – transport emission reduction plan for 2050
The idea works as the antithesis to the negative consequence impact that we have seen from installing more efficient energy air conditioning units – as they become less expensive to run they become used more often – the rebound effect.

To tackle the ongoing number of cars on the road, and ongoing number of people commuting into the city we should only allow cars that are over 20 years old in to the cities in peak times. Yes, the emissions per car would go up but the emissions per capita would go down as more people discovered that public transport was now becoming a better option than driving a shit car.

Think about it – an old car is unreliable, it consumes a lot of increasingly expensive petrol, it costs a lot to maintain and insure, you have to get it registered and checked to drive on the road every year.

As soon as you make driving a worst option than public transport, the use of the car will drop and the use of public transport will go up.

Now jump forward to 2050. That 20 year old car you are driving now will be 60 years old, the equivalent of driving a 1950s car today. I bet public transport is a better option than a 1950s car both in terms of cost and reliability – they definitely don’t have heated seats and air conditioning!

So rather than focusing on creating more efficient new cars to get more people using less petrol per person, maybe we should focus on promoting the use of inefficient old cars to get less people using more petrol per person.

Disclosure – I am a Prius driving hypocrite.

4 Comments on “How to be green – drive a rust bucket

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