Fleet News

Green transport: The card-carrying carbon cutters

THE amount of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere is at a record high across the world, with global consumption of fossil fuels estimated to release more than 22 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year.

More than a quarter of the UK’s contribution comes from road transport, which is responsible for 26% of UK emissions, according to the Energy Saving Trust (EST).

Scientists are worried. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) analyses global air samples. CO2 levels now stand at 381 parts per million (ppm) of dry air following one of the highest increases in 2005 of 2.6 ppm. Latest data confirms that the rate of CO2 increases has almost doubled from 1.78ppm in 2000 to 2.53ppm in 2005.

The UK Government’s chief scientific adviser, Professor David King, said new data highlighted the importance of taking urgent action to limit carbon emissions.

He said: ‘Today global levels are over 380ppm – that’s higher than we’ve been for over a million years, possibly 30 million years. Mankind is changing the climate.’

Now a British MP claims to have come up with a novel way of combating the problem. Colin Challen, Labour MP for Morley and Rothwell, has launched a Private Member’s Bill, working with the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, called the Domestic Tradable Quotas (Carbon Emissions) Bill.

His plan is to give everyone in the UK an annual allocation of carbon dioxide emissions issued in units, which would be an equal share of what the UK’s total carbon emissions are calculated to be.

Each year, the total amount would reduce, so individual allocations would also reduce. If people needed more than their allocation, they would be able to purchase surplus units through a carbon trading scheme from those who did not use up their points.

Each person would be issued with 1,000 units. At every fuel fill-up or each time an airline ticket was purchased, points would be deducted from the card.

There have even been suggestions that a carbon card could be incorporated into a fleet fuel card. Challen said: ‘People who use energy wisely would benefit but people who waste energy would not.

‘We need a scheme such as this because everybody has an equal responsibility not to squander a finite resource – fossil fuels, which cause global warming.

‘We live in a society which prefers to talk the talk but when it comes to walking the walk, it’s always somebody else’s job. This Bill would change all that.’

Challen wants to reduce 25% of his own carbon emissions by 2010 as an example to others. Issues would have to be addressed before a scheme such as this is introduced according to David Brennan, managing director at vehicle management company LeasePlan.

He said: ‘A programme like this would need to be supported by some kind of carbon trading scheme if it is to be credible.

‘Consideration must be given to how CO2 allowances are compiled to ensure companies are not provided with an unrealistic or unfair emission threshold and there could be a conflict with the Government’s duty of care message if the CO2 allowance excludes the use of private vehicles for business.

‘The essential issue with any scheme to reduce emissions is that a significant percentage of business journeys are unavoidable. That is why fleets are looking at ways to become carbon neutral.

‘It also begs the question of why the Government would look to again target fleets, given that company cars already lead the way in safety, cost and environmental performance.

‘The benefit-in-kind tax system has ensured that fleets are becoming greener, so maybe the Government should now begin to look at other groups of drivers who may operate more polluting or older vehicles.’

The CO2 card

Oh yes!

  • CO2 levels would reduce
  • Everybody would have equal responsibility
  • Carbon trading would ensure a C02 balance
  • It could spur other countries to follow initiative

    Err, no

  • Policing the scheme could be difficult
  • Carbon trading schemes could be capped
  • A C02 black market could arise
  • Fleet drivers would need two cards – business/private
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