Is this truly economically efficient and carbon-efficient?

Seems these posts have become my tribune to critique bad policies/initiatives, even if the primary intention is a good one. 

When I saw this question in the book, the first thing that came to my mind was the new big idea implemented by a Chilean Municipality, “Carbon Credits” for car users. Basically, every year each Chilean that owns a car has to pay a circulation permit (tax). Together with the circulation permit, a voluntary carbon credit is offered to tax-payers so they can pay for their carbon contribution to the environment.

A study showed that every Chilean that owns a car produces about five tons of carbon dioxide, where about 3 tons are produced by their cars. By paying the carbon credit, you’ll be erasing your carbon footprint, where the money raised will be used for ecological projects that will neutralize your footprint.

Is this a good idea? Yes. Is this an idea that we should promote as a national policy to reduce our carbon footprint in the world? It may be. Will this policy have a positive effect on making car users more aware of their carbon contribution to the environment and reduce car dependency? No.

I’m not an enemy of the idea, it’s just that we are getting used to mitigation measures and we are not dealing with the real issue. In Santiago air pollution is not a problem, it’s a threat to human lives. Especially in winter. Health services get packed with kids with respiratory diseases. Physical activity is publicly discouraged by the government, because the air is not suitable for it and without knowing it, we’re dying a little bit every day. Meanwhile, Chileans are happy driving their cars, because somewhere in the world they’ve already made their contribution to save the environment, they already made peace with the world, but livable conditions in Santiago get worse every year.

Going back to my last week’s post, what our cities need is less creative mitigation measures and we need more good and maybe unpopular policies that will save the future of our environment. As the book says, we just need to get out there and make a dent.

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