N. Cretton
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Global Warming

The 10 urgent measures to take in 2008 (l'Hebdo, january 2008)

I have translated the article "Economies d'énergie: Les priorités d'action", by Natalie Bougeard, Elisabeth Gordon and Michel Guillaume, published in l'Hebdo, third issue, january 17, 2008. I would like to thank the magazine l'Hebdo for letting me use their text here.

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1. Make the Minergie standard compulsory for new constructions.

Started in 2003 this swiss standard obliges architects to respect some standards in matter of thermal isolation, ventilation and heating of buildings. While cutting down heat losses, this standard reduces by a factor four or five the mean energetic consumption. In Switzerland more than 8000 public or private buildings (like individual houses) are already respecting the Minergie standard. Amongst them the building of the federal institute for statistics in Neuchatel or the new IBM building in Zurich.
2. Make the buildings three times less greedy in kWh and make sure that three quarters of the energy comes from renewable sources.

It is difficult to ask that the present buildings comply with the Minergie standard, the more so if they are old. One can renovate little by little to diminish heat losses. The substitution of central heating with oil, with electricity or with gas with heating systems with heat pumps, wood oven or solar energy (thermo-solar or photovoltaic) would reduce our CO2 emissions.
3. Heavily tax all new vehicles with a mileage above 6 lt/100 km and redistribute this money to owners of less greedy vehicles and public transportation.

Like in the newly introduced french system, the idea is to tax big engines with an "eco-malus". Such money is used to distribute an "eco-bonus" to the owners of small engines, which consume less fuel and emit less greenhouse gases.

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4. Ban the import of cars with mileage above 5 lt/100 km.

This measure goes in the same direction than the previous one, but is much more restrictive. Ban cars that consume more than 5 lt/100 km (corresponding to 130 grams of CO2 per km) means the end of many cars: one could still drive a Smart, an Opel Corsa, a Mini Cooper D or a BMW serie 3. But that would be the end of the Peugeot 607, the Audi A5, the Volkswagen Touareg, not even mentioning the Porsche Cayenne and the GM Hummer.
5. Conceive urban spaces that reunite houses, offices, shops and relax.

Urbanism could also help reduce the energetic bill. Lump together offices, schools, shops and relax centers could reduce commuting times. In this respect England is a pioneer withe the construction of an entire ecological suburb, Bed Zed (see the video). From the conception of buildings to the public transportation system, everything has been planned to reduce the CO2 emissions of the inhabitants.

6. Massively invest in urban public transportation.

It is the necessary condition to limit the use of cars in cities. It's not just about multiply busses and tramways, but also to make traffic much more fluid, so that people won't waste too much time while commuting. In Lausanne sometimes it is faster to walk than to take public transportation. In Fibourg busses divide the same lane with bicycles...they travel at the same speed!

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7. Adopt severe measures to reduce electric consumption, both nationally and internationally.

Washing machines, fridges, computers or TVs ... household electrical appliances, electronics and light are greedy in electricity: they represent more than half of the total current consumption. Since 2002 in Switzerland these products must wear a sticker that indicates the electric consumption to guide the buyer. The "class A" products use on average 30 to 40% less electricity compared to the "class D" prouducts.
8. Encourage the communes to promote remote heating

This system gives the possibility for public buildings and individual houses to get their heating from a common source. For example they could benefit from the "thermal waste" from a nearby factory. Numerous communes have already adopted this system. In Lausanne the thermal plant of Pierre-de-Plan warms up surrounding buildings. In Porrentruy an important remote heating plant (with wood) warms up 1400 houses.

9. Buy preferentially local products.

From the energetic point of view, to buy strawberries in winter, asparagus from Mexico or Argentinean beef is an aberration when one thinks of the amount of fuel needed to provide such produces to our dining tables. The swiss WWF informs that, for example, a bunch of asparagus imported by plane from Mexico needs 5 lt of oil while only 0.3 lt are needed for swiss asparagus. Always with the airplane, 1 kg of israeli strawberries uses 4.9 lt of kerosene versus 0.2 lt for local strawberries! What is true for the food, is equally true for most goods.

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10. Include the "ecologic costs" in the prices of products.

Based on the principle of "who pollutes pays", this measure is about including in the price of a product the "ecologic costs". In other words, the damage done on the environment in general - on the climate in parti-cular - generated by the product during its lifetime (from its construction to its destruction). Such measures would change many stickers, starting from plastic objects which would become very expensive.