It seems that everything you buy today offers you the facility to ‘offset’ the damage your purchase is causing to the environment. From the obvious, like air, road and rail travel, through to the weekly shop or even your house insurance, many firms are asking you to make that little extra payment so they can then plant a tree to offset the carbon emissions caused by your telephone call to their call centre abroad that then provided you with an incorrect insurance quote. But hey!—don’t feel bad about it, feel good—at least you’ve done the ethical thing and done your bit towards the environment, even if it has cost you more.
No more is this still a real issue than in the motoring industry. The latest survey by SMMT found that when it comes to a new car, price still takes priority over emissions, with price and running costs twice as important to female new car buyers as low emissions. Manufacturers feel that financial incentives are going to be crucial in creating consumer demand for lower carbon vehicles.
Suggestions of tax incentives and cheaper fuels were seen as the most important contributors in driving demand, followed by re-fuelling infrastructure, sustainable fuel production and better consumer information, but worryingly it was felt by large proportion of those polled that no single factor could be taken in isolation as the main answer to the problem.
At €20 bn, the automotive sector is Europe's largest investor in R&D, Technological innovation has helped car and CV manufacturers slash CO2 and air quality emissions from vehicles. New diesel cars for example emit 95 per cent less soot from the tailpipe than those made 15 years ago and average new car CO2 has been cut by 12 per cent since 1997. But still the motoring industry takes the flack, when in reality, some of the technological advances we are seeing from them are stunning, and with plenty more to come. The cars of our generation may soon be viewed as archaic as those from the dawn of motoring!