Like a stumbling drunk reaching for the bottle governments reach out to bailout the automotive industry, responsible for some 20% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the US and 12% worldwide.
Since 1750 oil has contributed about one third of total global Carbon emissions (over 300 Gigatons Carbon) (GtC), currently contributing about 3 GtC per year out of a total of about 8 GtC per year.
In Australia, emissions from road transport account for 12.6% of national greenhouse gas emissions, with passenger cars accounting for around 7.8% of total national emissions, while light commercial vehicles and heavy trucks account for 4.8%. The industry has adopted a target to reduce average CO2 emissions from new light vehicles from levels around 252 grams of CO2 per km in 2002 to an average 222 grams of CO2 per km by 2010, an overall reduction of 12 per cent.
Not without resistance from the motor car industry. In California (and seven other US States) clean air bills, requiring all new cars to emit at least 30% less CO2 in 10 years time, are subject to lawsuits filed by car manufacturers.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) new technologies still on the horizon could help reduce emissions by a total of 40 percent over the next five years.
Not that too much focus is placed on pollution-free technology, namely electric cars powered by electricity from thermal-solar plants, although the technology now exists for both.
But while the only form of “climate control” exercised to date is related to car air-conditioning systems, planetary climate changes races unabated at 2.2 parts per million CO2 per year.
Anthropogenic global warming, including feedback effects from carbon cycle, methane release and melting ice, is tracking toward about mid-temperature rise level reached during the last glacial termination between 14.7 and 11.7 thousand years ago, where abrupt climate tipping points occurred.
Had politicians, captains of industry and people in general understood the implications of CO2 rise to 450 ppm and temperature by 2 degrees, or to 550 ppm and temperature by near-3 degrees C, in terms of increasingly severe draughts and many metres-scale sea level rise, they would have taken a pause.
Instead of supporting a CO2-emitting motor car industry, they would have channelled the remaining resources into the construction of solar-thermal plants, solar-powered water desalination facilities, wind power generators, electric trains, electric cars, development of carbon draw-down technologies and reforesting of the fast extending deserts on this planet.