Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Nano Hypocrisy

I have been watching coverage (celsias, treehugger), of the Tata Nano in despair. There is a claim made, at times, that environmentalism is an attempt by the North to keep the South down. I`m skeptical about this but the hypocrisy shown in relation to the Tata Nano is mind boggling and dosent represent us well.

I was tempted to write an article on this, my angle being: if someone told you that India was going to take on 'Prius or better' emissions standards you would be pleased, right? No, it's not good enough! Or so say some environmentalists, despite the fact that developed nations arent even close to this level of fleet wide performance.

Here is a superb article by the World Watch institute 'Nano Hypocricy'.

The first paragraph sums things up:

"One car gets 46 miles per gallon, features fancy accessories, and sports two engines with a combined 145 horsepower. The other car reportedly gets 54 miles per gallon, runs on a diminutive 30-horsepower engine, and is positively spartan in its interior trimmings. The first is a darling of the environmentally conscious. The latter is reviled as a climate wrecker. These two vehicles are the Toyota Prius and the newly unveiled Tata Nano, dubbed “the people’s car.” Is there a double standard?"

Its only fair to not that there has already been a shot taken at the tata from this site by the highly talanted cartoonist in residence Marc from Throbgoblins International. This would be one of the few times that i havent agreed with his work.

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At 11:42 PM, Blogger Lloyd Alter said...

I was very clear when I wrote my post on TreeHugger:

"Indians are as entitled to drive as we are in the developed world and who are we to criticize when we have our cars. Except our cars plus their cars will kill us all and if we won't give them up we have no right to complain. Henry Ford unleashed a revolution that changed our world and gave us mobility, but at what price. Now we get to watch the rerun."

In fact I think the nano is a great thing, and if North America went back to 55MPH then they could sell them over here and we would all be better off and use a lot less carbon.

But mainly my position is we have to get away from cars everywhere, and build a proper infrastructure for collective, efficient transport .

At 2:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the bigger issue was the eviction of farmers to make way for the Factory.

At 12:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Colin

Our post on the Nano was written by a native Indian, who has a good grip on developments there.

If we spent our time extolling the Prius, I could understand the cause for dispair, but we have taken several pot-shots at the hypocrisy of the Prius and also Toyota, and for good reason. Here's an example:

As Lloyd expresses, we need to move the entire planet away from cars everywhere. The bottom of our Tata Nano post has a graph showing relative fuel usage for various nations. It's a shocking example of how 300 million people (the U.S.) can use more fuel than dozens of countries combined. Imagine adding 2.3 billion more people? (India & China).

"If emerging economies have to relive the entire industrial revolution with all its waste, its energy use, and its pollution, I think it’s all over." - Robert B. Shapiro (1938 - ) US business executive

This is where it does get desperate for environmentalists. We're trying to make systemic changes and recruit the majority of the populace in the developed world - but I think part of way to get environmental realities to sink into western minds is for them to consider what's happening outside of their own borders. I live with the hope that they will begin to recognise the socio-economic tipping points that are occuring worldwide - the Tata Nano being one of them. People need to see that, indeed, we're making these changes happen through our globalised markets:

We need to be setting examples, not telling others how they should live. I think the Tata Nano, and the 'two coal fired power plants every week' in China, etc. etc. are yet more reasons for the U.S. and the E.U. to get serious about environmental and peak oil issues and start mobilising a transition to a more sustainable society. If we don't take the lead, China, India, Brazil will keep chasing the American dream that we refuse to let go.

We need a new dream. So do they.

Funnily enough, some of the Indians seem clever enough - they're protesting against the Nano on their own, recognising what it will mean to their future and way of life. It's a pity we in the west aren't that smart. We can't read the writing on the wall - we just wait for the wall to fall on us.

At 10:01 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

So, the Indians get a car for 1000 quid, we Brits get 4.5 free million lightbulbs. Rupert's "generosity" aside - is this progress or are the inhabitants of the planet are pulling in opposite directions...


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