• Vehicle energy efficiency key to climate cuts

    Cutting greenhouse gas emissions can be cheaper than previously thought, and energy efficiency improvements in vehicles are among the most effective things that can be done, according to two reports released last month.

    In a new analysis of greenhouse gas emission abatement options, the international consultancy firm McKinsey says 1990 levels can be cut by 35% by 2030 at a cost of €200-300 billion per year, around 0.5% of global GDP and about half the cost estimated by the economist Nicholas Stern in his 2006 study on the economic impact of global warming.

    McKinsey recommends priority areas in which the cost of action is less than €60 per tone of carbon. It includes energy efficiency improvements in vehicles, buildings and industrial equipment, measures it says will have ‘negative costs’, in that fuel savings will outweigh the investment needed to achieve them.

    In a separate development, two British transport economists say major environmental improvements to cars are feasible without major investment in technology.


    In their report ‘Cars fit for their purpose’, Stephen Plowden and Simon Lister say cars’ carbon emissions could be 30% lower than at present by building cars to different specifications, in particular by reducing power and weight. But they say the market is unlikely to deliver such changes, and only government intervention will allow them to happen.
    Plowden and Lister also attempt to re-define the term ‘eco-car’. They say it should mean ‘a vehicle which causes no more danger or environmental impact, and consumes no more non-renewable resources, than is necessary to perform its transport function’.


    BMW is reporting a 29 g/km cut in average CO2 emissions across its fleet (187g to 158g) over the past year which it says is due mostly to fitting its ‘Efficient Dynamics’ fuel-saving technology on all new vehicles. A BMW official said such a high reduction would not have been achieved if the technology had been optional for buyers.