Mind Your Engines!

2009-12-15 18:33 - 0 Comments

In time for Copenhagen, CO2 Emissions and Global Warming are flamboyant topics of our century and will, sooner or later, demand our commitment. While it is difficult to reach global agreements of a big scale, it is easy to contribute individually by changing our behavior - and act as role models and messengers to policy makers. Street traffic accounts for around 20% of global CO2 emissions. Yet, a significant share of these emissions is generated while not moving at all, e.g. in front of red lights or traffic jams. In other words, it is completely wasted. By incentivizing people to turn off their engines when they are idle, CO2 emissions can be reduced, fuel consumption optimized, cleaner air enjoyed and even money saved. While car manufacturers around the world are working on emerging technologies for cleaner transportation, it still has to be expected that more aged, less fuel-efficient models will populate the world's streets for a long time. Simple billboards that measure CO2 output via a number of methods (air pollution, noise volume, street vibration; depending on traffic density) will ask drivers to turn off their engines while standing still, and offer them to show a funny video clip, quotations, a news flash, the weather forecast or even the funniest advertising clips (revenues can be used for the installation of the billboards). This way, CO2 emissions are cut not only by making it fun for the drivers, but also by encouraging them to save money and enjoy their waiting time.

If drivers turned off their idling engines for only 10 minutes a day, 51 liters of gasoline can be saved annually and global CO2 emissions can be cut by approximately 0.2% (own calculations based on European Central Bank statistics). According to studies, turning off the engine of a vehicle is already efficient when idling would otherwise equal or surpass 8 seconds - contrary to the widespread popular belief that starting up the engine burns much more fuel than idling it for many seconds.

In the end, through the appeal of fun, our idea positively impacts the environment and personal well-being by reducing our CO2 footprint, increasing air quality and alleviating psychological stress during dense traffic by enriching waiting times.

Submitted by Veit Kment



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