Make cars greener says ex-Shell boss

Posted by jamie — 6 February 2008 at 11:48am - Comments

As one fossil fuel giant sidelines its alternative energy projects and invests in even more damaging technologies such as tar sands, the former head of another multinational has made some startling demands vis a vis car efficiency. To all intents and purposes, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart- ex-chairmen of Shell - wants to see all gas guzzlers banned.

Expanding on a column he wrote for the BBC website, Sir Mark said that the EU should bring in a minimum standard of 35 miles per gallon (mpg). "Nobody needs a car that does 10-15mpg," he said. "We need very tough regulation saying that you can't drive or build something less than a certain standard. You would be allowed to drive an Aston Martin - but only if it did 50-60mpg."

That's fighting talk and few campaigning organisations have gone so far, let alone a heavy-weight from the oil industry. At the moment, car efficiency standards in the EU are purely voluntary but mandatory standards are being proposed. If they manage to resist the efforts of the auto and oil industries to knobble the process, it will have a huge influence on the rest of the car world.

Accusations of hypocrisy have been thrown at Sir Mark, more to do with the private jet and chauffeur-driven limos on hand at his current employers Anglo American than previous activities. But the point of his argument is that manufacturers of all goods - not just cars - will not set or achieve these goals on their own.

"Regulation was needed to channel the power of the market, but regulatory frameworks have to be simple and practical," he said in his BBC article, citing the introduction of catalytic converters and seat belts as earlier examples of developments being 'forced' on car manufacturers through legislation which no one would get rid of today. The market, he argues, will adapt.

As a business man, he's still wedded to the idea of the market as the perfect mechanism for development and innovation but even he acknowledges that consumer choice won't be enough to ensure companies become greener. Still, he's not advocating that we all drive less or buy fewer cars - that would be just a bit too radical.

About Jamie

I'm a forests campaigner working mainly on Indonesia. My personal mumblings can be found @shrinkydinky.

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