Freebates and the resource intensity of mobility

 This article from the RMI in 2004 is prescient and its tenets are now being applied successfully in Germany.

We need to create a system of Freebates, based on the difference in the CO2 emissions of the vehicle scrapped and the replacement vehicle and its remaining useful life.

There has been time for manufacturers of highly polluting vehicles to recognise that theirs has not been a viable business model for many years and so can only expect minimal government support.


September 19, 2004 – Vol.9 No.26


The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) has published a plan for the U.S to rid itself of oil. Winning the Oil Endgame: Innovation for Profits, Jobs and Security is good, and it’s free (for a download copy.)

Oil Endgame, funded by the Pentagon, is a roadmap that the U.S. could follow that would save more oil by 2015 than it now gets from the Persian Gulf. Further, by 2025, the U.S. would use less oil than in 1970, by 2040 import no oil and by 2050 eliminate oil from the nation’s energy menu.

Endgame authors envision a mostly market-driven effort, with only some government assistance and law-making to get the program rolling. Once underway, profits and business opportunities, should keep the momentum………………………… 

……………How the Government could help start the process:

— Create revenue neutral incentives; freebates that would encourage the purchase of highly efficient vehicles. Combine a fee for the ownership of an inefficient vehicle with a rebate for the purchase of a super-efficient one.

— Create a scrap-and-replace program for low income people to bring money saving transportation to the poorest. New transportation opportunities would allow access to job opportunities now not accessible.

— Create loan guarantees for the auto industries that allow them to switch over to new fabrication techniques for high-tech composite materials.

— Let the Pentagon add its expertise in developing the new technologies. The Pentagon, as the largest single purchaser of fossil fuels in the world (all those aircraft, ships and wheeled vehicles), stands to benefit greatly from energy efficiency and independence.

For this market-based, profit-based approach to energy freedom to work it needs leadership not just money. The vehicle industry would need to be convinced that this has to be done. Consumers need to be convinced that they will not lose any of the safety or utility or choice of vehicles they now have if they convert to more efficient vehicles. But the first step will be to convince politicians of the importance of this issue – energy freedom, energy independence – for the future of the nation.

The 329-page report, executive summary and technical backup papers can be downloaded at . A paperback version can also be purchased at the site.


See also


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