Archive for the ‘Carbon’ Tag

Do As I Say Not As I Fly

air_travelThe airline industry benefits from a whole host of concessions and practices that would not be tolerated in any other commercial sector. Aviation fuel is not taxed, airlines have no contractual commitment to provide the service you have bought, they can sell the same seat over and over again and keep all the income and if they loose your luggage the compensation is derisory.

Now the industry wants the target for the reduction in CO2 reduced or removed altogether. If we want to keep flying its the only option, we are told. How long this charmed life can continue is debatable. What was once a luxury has become almost as routine as taking a bus, we fly everywhere with great frequency without any consideration of the impact on the environment. Even the carbon offset levy, or tax as many call it, has not reduced our travelling habit.

The thought that the airline industry should be protected from the carbon targets is madness, no section of the commerce world should be exempt. Everyone, including us in our private homes must do their bit to help prevent any further deterioration in the environment. If that means air travel becomes so expensive it returns to its luxury status then it will be a small concession if it means we get to survive into the future without any man made disasters.

World Leaders Stop The World

The level of disruption and size of carbon foot print caused by the G20 makes one wonder if its worth bothering. The chances of an agreement are zero. Oh, they’ll sign up to something, but it will be woolly worded, contain no real commitments or make any difference to our problems. The leaders are already jousting with words to ensure the US does not try to act as the leader of everything. The French want banking controls that go far beyond anything everyone else wants, Gordon Brown wants to chuck dustbins full of cash at the problem, and Obama wants everyone to do what he says.

Stuck in the middle of all this are the people of London and those who’s travel plans are being disrupted due to the overblown egos of the the world leaders. The level of security is way beyond anything that is needed to protect the precious cargo that are our prime ministers and presidents. Yes there are risks but not to the extent the security forces think, but we must let them have their day and keep the secret service personnel feeling special.

The president of Brazil decided to take the low carbon option to travel from Paris to London by taking the train. For the French President Nicolas Sarkozy such a choice was to demeaning, he will arrive by private jet. The total cost of the G20 will probably be more than the gross domestic product of many poor countries. Perhaps that would have been a better investment and more effective than a round of back slapping and back biting that will take place this week.

Carbon Hypocrisy

Solar water heating panels have been appearing on roofs all around the area. Having done all the simple energy saving tasks (cavity wall and loft insulation, double glazing, new doors, low energy light bulbs, new boiler…) I decided to take a look at this, apparently popular option. For an average home they cost around £3,000 to install and have a life of some ten years.

So how much do you save during that ten year period? The average annual cost of hot water is just £80 and the annual saving these systems provide is about 60%. Allowing 5% inflation the total cost over ten years is £604. Take off the operating cost of the solar heating system and the savings over ten years are reduced to £377. The maintenance cost during the ten year period will probably exceed the net savings.

Investing in solar water has no financial benefit for the average household. Even the carbon reduction is relatively small at 500 kg a year. At most it’s an outward sign that the household is trying to make a difference. However, they probably still fly away on holiday, drive large vehicles, ignore food miles and indulge in other carbon heavy activities. Carbon hypocrisy is alive and well in our suburbs.