Saturday, March 6, 2010

Green Scams

For all my support to the issue of going 'Green' I think that companies are taking us for a ride. Projects that plan a saving of a few million metric tons of green house gases are common in newspapers. This is then linked to the equivalent of removing a few million cars from the road. I think we sum up all the gases the benevolent companies will save, by 2015 we might go into a negative, where we are actually sucking back some carbon emitted in earlier years!!

The first suspect is the method the firms use to calculate and project the savings. A company could project a 50% increase of business in the next few years. Accordingly they could extrapolate the emission to an increase of 50%. They could then show a petty saving on this extrapolated amount.

next, as a learned friend pointed out, is the concept of net pollution reduction versus the gross reduction. Electric cars are not totally pollution free. Electricity generation is polluting and the lead acetate batteries are dangerous to dispose. So the pollution from increased generation of electricity and the disposal of batteries has to be subtracted from the gross savings of vehicular emission. I believe that when stating reduction targets, instead of informing the net savings, companies are giving the gross savings value. This could be substantially higher than the real savings achieved.

Like pointed out in the previous post, some savings could be merely shifting of activities to vendors. While the company has reduced emission, there are no supply chain wide cuts. Such activities might in fact increase the transportation and hence the net carbon emissions.

I have always maintained that a cigarette smoker giving up the habit definitely benefits the environment. But, the bigger benefit is to himself. He would probably add a few more years to his life, and it is impossible to calculate the cost benefit of this act.

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