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30 steps to an oil-free world

1st May, 2008

Ecologist

Our addiction to oil is not inevitable. We can all take steps to kick the habit

What you can do:

1. Walk, cycle, take public transport or consider a car-pool whenever possible.
2. Reduce your travel by air.
3. If you need a car, buy the most fuel-efficient (currently Toyota’s Prius and Honda’s Insight – both hybrid cars that use petrol and electricity) or one that runs on bio-diesel or natural gas.
4. Service your car regularly – keeping the engine tuned and your car tyres at the maximum recommended air pressure saves petrol.
5. Live as close to work as possible.
6. Shop locally rather than in out-of-town superstores.
7. Buy regionally and seasonally produced organic food whenever possible.
8. Switch your investments away from fossil fuel to renewable energy companies, or exercise your right as a shareholder to pressure energy companies to make the transition to renewables.
9. Boycott the products of companies like Esso that are obstructing the transition to renewables.

What the government can do:

10. Lobby your political representatives to press them to act, and vote accordingly.
11. Accept a target of phasing out oil and gas use within 50 years.
12. Discontinue all direct and indirect subsidies to the oil and gas industry.
13. Refuse licenses for the exploration and development of new oil and gas reserves.
14. Provide investment, grants, and tax breaks for the development and purchase of clean renewable alternatives to oil and for energy efficient vehicles.
15. Increase investment in public transport.
16. Pedestrianise city centres and introduce congestion charges in cities.
17. Require car makers to ensure an escalating proportion of their vehicle fleet sales consists of petrol-free vehicles.
18. Increase minimum energy efficiency standards for vehicles.
19. Change tariff policies on imports to support the local consumption of goods (particularly food) that have been produced locally.

What businesses can do:

20. Phase out subsidies to industrial food production, which is petrol-intensive, and support conversion to organic methods instead.
21. Oil and gas companies should commit to converting themselves into renewable energy companies, and redirect their investments accordingly.
22. Car makers should commit to mass-manufacture cars now that run on hydrogen fuel cells or other renewable fuels, and that use lighter materials.
23. Companies should convert their truck and car fleets to the lowest petrol-consuming vehicles available.
24. Companies should provide incentives for employees to leave their cars at home and use public transport instead, reduce air travel, and promote telecommuting.
25. Companies should site their offices close to public transportation.
26. Retailers should adopt a purchasing policy that provides preference to goods from short supply routes and regional markets.
27. Companies should shift freight out of trucks and onto rail and waterways.
28. Farmers should convert from industrial to organic farming methods.
29. The plastics and packaging industries should replace their use of oil with corn, soybean, potato starch or limestone derivatives.
30. The clothing industry should use vegetable starch and natural fibres, such as wool and cotton, instead of oil derivatives in their products.

This article first appeared in the Ecologist September 2007

 

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