Included in the new P.E.I. climate change plan is a discussion of the need to transition the transportation sector away from fossil fuels. Unfortunately, this discussion is not followed by any significant actions.
Incentives are routinely used to move behaviour in socially desired directions. Fossil fuels, for example, receive a worldwide subsidy of over $4 trillion a year. Until recently the consensus was that those incentives were vital to the growth and maintenance of our societies. Now, however, we understand that this energy source is poisoning us and our environment, and exacerbating worldwide disruptions.
This can be addressed by redirecting only a small amount of the lavish annual fossil fuel windfalls.
For ground transportation, we already have the solutions at hand. The only thing keeping us on our path to destruction is perceived price. Redirecting fossil fuel subsidy dollars can create a new set of incentives for nonpolluting private automobiles, school buses, city buses, commercial transportation, etc. One incentive should be a temporary tax rebate program for renewable-fueled vehicles. P.E.I. had such a program – simple and inexpensive. Re-funding that program would greatly increase the number of alternative fuel automobiles on the Island.
Like the U.S. rebates, the program should have limited life, terminating when a defined number of alternative fuel automobiles are in use on the Island. Other incentives can be tailored to other subsectors.
It will take dedication and a host of actions at every level of society to ameliorate this crisis. This is one.