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Confused Environmentalists For Speed Limits March 13, 2007

Posted by federalist in Energy, Regulation, Transportation.

As far as I’m concerned Germany’s Autobahn is one of its greatest tourist attractions: Immaculately maintained highways teeming with some of the world’s best cars and best drivers, compounded by long stretches with no speed limit.  Among my fondest travel memories is blasting through the scenic German countryside at 140mph in a rented Audi turbodiesel.

So here come environmentalists to crash that party: No less than the EU “Commissioner for Environment” suggested it’s inappropriate to let people drive that fast because cars consume more gas at higher speeds.

This is a typical environmentalist maneuver: Attack a high-visibility target without regard to its value.  There’s no consideration of the benefits of speedy highway travel.  Meanwhile, how much could a speed limit benefit the environment?  “A spokesman for the Transport Ministry, Dirk Inger, said a study by a federal agency had found that an overall autobahn limit of 100 kilometers per hour — or 62 mph — would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by only 0.6 percent.”

I have a number of ideas that would have a far greater impact on carbon emissions:

  • Require every European to live within walking distance of his place of employment.
  • Ban leisure travel more than 10 kilometers from a European’s place of residence.
  • Ban residences that are larger than 500 square feet per occupant.
  • Ban recreational energy consumption: No more sporting events, theme parks, etc.
  • Ban fossil-fueled power plants.

Strangely, the Greek EU Environment Commissioner has not proposed any of these initiatives.  I guess it’s easier to tell someone else (in another country, no less) to change than to propose changes that could strike closer to home. 

Fortunately, a group representing the German auto industry said it needed “no coaching on efficient climate protection from Brussels.”

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