George Monbiot has this story from the northern hemisphere about ‘the other bail out’:
Last week, George Bush agreed to lend $25bn to US car manufacturers. It’s a soft loan, which will cost the government $7.5bn (1). Few people noticed; fewer fought it. The House of Representatives approved the measure by 370 votes to 58. The great corporate bail-out is spreading like the plague.
It has already crossed the Atlantic. Yesterday European car makers demanded that the EU hand them E40bn ($54bn) in cheap loans to match the US subsidy(2). Where will the public spending spree end?
Monbiot then has a fairly detailed look at car makers’ failure to get to grips over the last decade with simple environmental measures such as reducing the average emissions (grams of CO2 per kilometre) produced by their cars.
What makes this dithering so frustrating is that to be talking, in 2008, about targets of 130 or 120g/km is a bit like discussing whether modern computers should have ten rows of sliding beads or 100. In 1974 a stripped-down 1959 Opel T-1 managed 377 miles to the US gallon (160km/l)(17), which equates to 15 grams of CO2 per kilometre(18). There is no technical reason why the maximum limit for mass-produced cars shouldn’t be 50g/km.
Meanwhile, one company that doesn’t need bailing out by governments, and whose products get a lot less than 120 g of CO2 emissions per kilometre is Giant Manufacturing, “the world’s largest bicycle-maker which sold a record 460,000 units last month and is heading for its best year ever.”
Sadly we don’t have a strong local Kiwi-made bike industry here in New Zealand to compete with Giant (or a car manufacturing industry either for that matter). Which is a shame, because it is the sort of high-skilled, future focused industry that should have a place on our shores if we could only give it the support it needed to get established. Giant shares are slightly down about 5 percent on their value from this time last year, whereas the Dow Jones industrial is down about 40 percent. Ford and General Motors are down 75 percent and 85 percent respectively. I know which one I think looks the best bet for future investment as peak oil arrives.