Over 2,500 business leaders are flying in from around the world on carbon-spewing planes to the Swiss ski resort Davos for the World Economic Forum (WEF). If they were planning on taking a sports utility vehicle (SUV) or a limousine from the airport to the resort, they better think again:
Conference organisers have asked the business elite to leave their gas-guzzling limousines and SUVs, the traditional mode of transport for any self-respecting banker, at home. However, those who insist on turning up in their ostentatious cars will not be banned from entering the conference. Rather, cars that do not conform to the event’s vehicle specifications will not be eligible to receive a cherished “green sticker” that permits access to special security areas.”
Environmentalists have been quick to point out that this is nothing more than a gimmick. Greenpeace Switzerland’s Bruno Heinzer said, “From there you can see the intentions of the WEF, it’s really just to give itself a good image.” Rob Bailey, of Oxfam International (a non-governmental organization that fights poverty and injustice), asserted, “If you try to imagine the overall carbon footprint of the meeting, you will see that those restrictions on cars are probably going to be just a rounding value.” Interestingly, diesel cars will get the “green” light and avoid the conference’s ban.
The green initiative in Davos is a clear example of an underlying theme of the radical environmental movement: Controlling lives. It’s about forcefully changing peoples’ behavior and telling them what to do. The goal for environmental alarmists may be a cleaner planet but their “we-know-what’s-best-for-you” initiatives will drive people away faster than it will bring them in. If environmentalists are labeling the SUV ban in Davos as a gimmick, one can only imagine what sweeping regulations and initiatives they would have put in place if they did have their way.
Consumers have unique preferences when it comes to purchasing a vehicle. Whether it is safety features, reliability, fuel economy, style, comfort, price and/or handling, trade offs exist. Fuel economy versus size is among the biggest trade-offs, but perhaps people need an SUV because they have kids or they are safer when driving along snowy and icy roads at, say, a ski resort. If the radical environmental movement gets their way, we’ll have less trade offs because we’ll have less choices. And just like the Green Initiative in Davos, it won’t provide any tangible benefit to the environment.