Back in October, I wrote a piece detailing the efforts by automakers to tear apart efficiency standards for cars, which would otherwise save consumers money ($1.7 billion), lessen oil imports, save lives through curbed local air pollution, reduce climate change pollutants, and not to forget, create jobs and make the automotive sector competitive for a future with advanced (read: clean, efficient, and high-performing) vehicles.
Alas, automakers appear to prefer inevitable bailouts (again) by taxpayers as they are now moving forward with this truly self-inflicted wound of a policy misstep, and it would be far from the first time.
As this comes in the light of Volkswagen’s ‘Dieselgate’, it should perhaps come as no surprise, and is something I am sad to have predicted in 2015 in a series:
It is a depressing state of affairs, and until there is significant pressure to act more responsibly, so-called ‘pro-business’ arguments should be called out for what they truly are: a cover to lobby for increased short-term profits at the expense of people, the environment, and long-term economic competitiveness of the automotive sector.
Not only are automakers now succeeding in rolling back basic efficiency standards, something that should be a no-brainer to push forward and a win-win of a policy, but they are now actually denying climate change in order to support this roll-back of efficiency standards.
In market economies, there are those fundamentalists who believe that there should be zero regulation for the purported benefit of consumers, but to them I ask this: did automakers take lead out of gasoline from the goodness of their hearts, or because people and government mandated it?
We need to stop pretending automakers are leaders and innovators and see them for what they are: roadblocks.
The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.