Sunday, 21 December 2008

Environment must gain from car bailouts

This week two key factors emerged in relation to our car industry.

Firstly the EU have passed new targets that will reduce CO2 emissions by 20% in 2020 including new targets for vehicle emissions. Secondly it appears at least one UK maker will be cap in hand to the Treasury looking for a bail out to keep in in business over the coming months.

Now let me make it clear I without hesitation support the need for a financial package to the industry. Without it the same decimation of communities that followed the Tory butchery of the coal mines in the 80's will be seen in communities across the land as not just the big factories close but so do all their component suppliers.

However this must not be a blank cheque. If the government are in effect to take a large share in the car industry then it must do so with two reforms tied to the back of its money.

First the industry management processes must be streamlined and modernised. Then second the money must be tied to short, medium and long term commitments to improving the environmental friendliness of their product.

This can be simplistically be done in many ways however I suggest 4 key commitments to start the process off

1 Remove the most polluting variants from their range within six months
2 Place environmental friendliness on a par with safety in all advertising
3 Refocus new research on technology that improves fuel efficiency especially in the stationary traffic jam scenario
4 Commit to the original more ambitious targets that the EU originally proposed for this weeks legislation before the industry lobbyists got their claws in

That way not only will we have a car industry left after this crisis passes but we will have one configured towards ensuring our children have an environment left in which to own their own car in the future

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