Trading carbon credits is a public way of paying a company for a band aid solution rather than the fixing the cause. It’s the easy road.
Companies that deflect its Carbon Dioxide (CO2) production and make money on the ‘greenhouse gas’, which is 300 times less harmful than the Nitrogen Oxide group (NOx), is the same as believing that the gas you breath out is the one leading to 38,000 premature deaths per a year. It is simply not right.
If this is the route you choose, bear in mind that some NOx gases will kill you and the trees you planted to offset your CO2 ‘resolution’. Yet we continue to partake in the ‘Carbon Capture’ and ‘Carbon Credit’ program because we don’t know what else to do. Isn’t there a worry that the money the carbon credit has created is not doing something meaningful? Or is it just lining some suit pockets? On the other side, is it too small and an easy option for the buyers to purchase rather than bettering their processes? It feels like a very fine (and dangerous) line.
Maybe we should look to bind the Paris Agreement tighter to the EPA, which created the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for monitoring all of these greenhouse gases. Then proceeding to work on stiffer emission standards with The Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP). But, once again, it seems WLTP is focused on CO2 and fuel efficiency, which effectively hides NOx in the corner under ‘pollutants’. Maybe if it was placed under something more dramatic we all might be more weary of its production.
But NOx is a concern. The so-called faulty sensors are an issue, but these are all logging the problem instead of fixing it. The regulators for one such case, European Commission and the California Air Resources Board have caused Volvo to recently set aside $778M for potential costs in exceeding nitrogen oxide emissions from a faulty sensor. This fine is small compared to the costs borne by VW for its wizardry in what has been termed Dieselgate. Costs in excess of $25 billion have been mentioned since the start in 2015. Here, advanced parts were fitted to reduce harmful emissions including NOx and Soot (CO2), but were then not effectively engaged by computer systems and its related parts in the search of performance. Once again continuing down the line of a ‘band aid’ solution that is not effectively focused on causality.
On the side, the Sustainability Development Goals appear to be aligning our thoughts, but we still need to work together - otherwise these goals will continue to separate us. Long term we need to do what we can. It’s a difficult road to make all rules the same. Some countries will develop their already stricter laws further, causing their companies to update its fleets for more efficient, less polluting engines such as the next level of Euro 6/Tier 5. But the ‘hand me down vehicles’, Euro 4, need to go somewhere. These countries with lower emission standards then create the same harmful emissions. Maybe more because they are not properly maintaining them.
The upgraded parts of these engines, for example taking Euro 4 engines to Euro 6, is at a basic level adding parts for Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR), Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF) and Selective Catalytic Convertor (SCR), all to remove harmful emissions. But these engines still need extra maintenance and fluids. It can actually increase fuel use - not on a km/l (MPG) while driving, but when forced into ‘regen’. Even Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) is another chemical addition and cost, which could be reduced. As well as its impact on eutrophication once vaporised and exiting with exhaust emissions.
Maybe we should be looking at similar ways we reduced Sulphur Dioxides (SOx) production by creating Low Sulphur Diesel (LSD) or now Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel (ULSD). There is some work being done on removing NOx, but it is difficult as Nitrogen (N2) makes up 78% of our atmospheric air. Maybe the answer is in the fuel itself?
A collaborative approach will speed up our formulation of an answer, maybe D-ZEL Aid is the solution for ‘this moment’ for NOx (Soot) and some fuel efficiency. But if we all work on a way, we can effectively impact the causality now and later. Then, hopefully others will leap frog ahead with the next ‘better’ answer, and ultimately avoid the ‘band aid’ approach that has become far too common.
It just seems better than buying a piece of paper, offsetting a problem, and effectively doing nothing, than really creating a change.