- Category: Living Green
19 Dec 2012
- Published on Wednesday, 19 December 2012 09:36
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A small amount of information could be all that it takes to encourage people to decrease their transportation fuel use, resulting in savings for the consumer and lower emissions for the world.
This is the finding of a new paper from Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy which proposes a national marketing campaign on measures to decrease fuel use in order to encourage consumers to adapt greener transportation habits.
“Its objective would be to inform consumers how they can alter the manner and frequency of their driving. The cost of such a campaign would be modest in comparison to its potential role in mitigating the effects of higher transportation costs and empowering consumers to take greater control of their expenditures on fuel,” said the study’s authors.
According to Joe Barnes, the Baker Institute’s Bonner Means Baker Fellow, and James Coan, a former research associate with the Baker Institute’s Center for Energy Studies, there are a number of steps that consumers can take to limit the use of fuel.
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These measures include “smart driving” techniques – such as gradual acceleration and maximizing fuel mileage by sticking to speed limits; routinely maintaining cars; using technologies that provide real-time feedback on fuel consumption; carpooling; and telecommuting.
All that’s needed is to make sure consumers know about these smart driving techniques and how to implement them. This is where a marketing campaign would come in.
The authors believe that a relatively modest publicity campaign, to the tune of $25-30 million, could create substantial savings for consumers.
In contrast to the perceived cost of a marketing campaign, they cited the average annual gasoline expenditures of Americans in 2011 which totaled more than $475 billion.
“Studies generally show a reduction in oil consumption of 5-15 percent from smart driving. Ad Council partners who run ads exert substantial control over which advertisements are shown, and we expect that more will want to show ads about ways to lower fuel use during an oil shock,” said the authors.
An oil shock, triggered by a rapid increase in fuel prices, still remains a distinct possibility bur to instability in major petroleum-reducing regions. Given the importance of oil in the transportation sector and the importance of the transportation sector to industry and commerce, ways of buffering this “shock” – such as reducing fuel use – are vital to the world economy.
Aside from its economic benefits, having a more fuel conscious society would also yield the benefits of improved safety, better air quality, reduced congestion and lower carbon dioxide emissions. – K. Jalbuena