Cap and Trade for Traffic

Great article today on a study suggesting that traffic congestion is created by the marginal driver, and more interesting, from the marginal driver from specific and predictable locations.  Maybe 1% of commuters leaving from specific neighborhoods have a big increase on traffic congestion and commute time for everyone. The link to the study is here.

We dealt with this in the demand response market for energy.  With regulators 10-15 years ago creating free markets enabling companies to sell a reduction of energy demand to the power companies instead of increase generation.

We dealt with this in the carbon, Renewable Energy Credit, and Acid rain sphere by creating cap and trade style mechanisms enabling the rest of the market to pay some marginal actors just enough for them to drop out first.

There are bars that change the price of beer based on demand.

The stock market handles real time demand pricing every day.

Why not for traffic?  Hammer congestion and air pollution.  Create localized markets where the transit or roads authority, like Caltrans, TexDOT, or the local air district, instead of spending my tax dollars only on new roads, infrastructure, or regulations, used cellphone apps to pay a few dollars to commuters who would drop out of the critical commute paths at the right times.  Perhaps credits on your toll road account?  The more who apply, the less each make? Compliance tracked against your cellphone GPS?  A thousand ways to address the myriad technical issues with payments, tracking, compliance, verification, and additionality.

Small investment, massive social, environmental and economic benefits.

Wind Leading the Pack of Winning Clean Tech Technologies

by Marguerite Manteau-Rao

Mark Jakobson, professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, at Stanford University, performed a thorough evaluation of energy solutions to global warming, as applied to alternative vehicle technologies. His answers may surprise you.

Pr. Jakobson looked at the following energy sources:

  • wind turbines
  • battery electric vehicles
  • solar photovoltaics
  • hydrogen fuel cell vehicles
  • geothermal power plants
  • tidal turbines
  • wave devices
  • concentrated solar power
  • hydroelectric power plants
  • nuclear power plants
  • coal with carbon capture and sequestration
  • corn ethanol
  • flex-fuel vehicles
  • cellulosic ethanol

and evaluated them according to the following criteria:

  • resource abundance
  • carbon-dioxide equivalent emissions
  • opportunity cost emissions from planning-to-operation delays
  • leakage from carbon sequestration
  • nuclear war/terrorism emission riks from nuclear-energy
  • air pollution mortality
  • water consumption
  • footprint on the ground
  • spacing required
  • effects on wildlife
  • thermal pollution
  • water chemical pollution/radioactive waste
  • energy supply disruption
  • normal operating reliability
Wind comes out the clear winner. Concentrated solar power, geothermal, solar photovoltaics, tidal, wave, are good additions to the mix. Hydroelectric is added for its load balancing ability. Nuclear and coal are less beneficial. Corn and cellulosic ethanol should not be included in policy options. Hopefully, the next administration will be wise enough to follow Pr. Jakobson’s recommendation . . . and align its subsidies with the right kind of technologies.

Marguerite Manteau-Rao is a green blogger and marketing consultant on sustainability and social media. Her green blog, La Marguerite, focuses on behavioral solutions to climate change and other global sustainability issues. Marguerite is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post. Since Sarah Palin’s VP nomination, she has also been impersonating Ms. Palin at What’s Sarah Thinking? blog