Author: Desislava Georgieva
Published On: 28/01/2022

I passed my first inspection with my 25 year old car under the new rules. They stuck me with the new eco stickers. As well as the year and date my car is roadworthy, there’s another one for the environmental group my car falls into. To my question about the meaning of the number “1” on the eco sticker, the employee rather obscenely replied that it "doesn’t stand for anything". I fell into the group of car owners against whom municipalities can impose restrictions in the name of protecting the environment and human health. For example, banning cars from central urban areas.

I drive 10 thousand kilometres in my private car in 10 years. I only use it for emergency or special needs. I use public transport in my everyday life and a company car for work. And one who has got a Class 4, 5 or 6 sticker and does 10 thousand km a year, does it pollute less?

The answer to that question doesn’t just go through how much CO2 or exhaust comes out of the tailpipe. Assuming that for every litre of fuel burned, an equivalent amount of CO2 comes out, then in just a month the driver of a Class 5 car will have “blown” as much as I do in a year. Even if my carburetor car burns
7 litres per 100 kilometres and the new one 4 litres for the same distance, the bill will be two to one in my favour for the environment. Here comes the question: what are we actually doing? The new stickers, the new standards, are actually an indulgence in our consumerism. The fig leaf with which we cover up our reluctance to deal with the problems for real. The problems of environmental protection and climate change always go through the extent of human consumption of resources.

All efforts to reduce consumption are subject to certification through some standard. Take energy efficiency measures, for example. The idea of putting insulation on homes is to reduce the consumption of resources for heating. You consume less – you get a green certificate. Making fuel efficient appliances also aims to reduce fuel consumption. Consume less – get green certificate. Same in waste management, Consume less – produce less garbage.

Only transport is forgiven. Maybe because it is the favourite child of consumption. Actually the level playing field approach should introduce the same rules for the pet child as for everyone else. What would that mean? Certificates should be awarded not on the basis of cc, horsepower, CO2 emissions, but on the basis of fuel consumed. Why? They used more fuel, which is a common resource. Even if you have a special filter, it means additional resource and energy consumption because sooner or later it will have to be recycled. The bill includes, all oils and filters, which must be replaced at 10 thousand km. Let the electric car enthusiasts replace in their imagination the fuel and oils with the spent battery. No matter what power source you use, petroleum fuel, electricity or hybrid, the car runs on tires that depreciate at 30 thousand km. As they depreciate, friction releases micro particles into the environment that contain the poison cadmium.

But… let’s go back to the stickers. In the case of cars, they should be linked, as in all other industries, to the ‘polluter pays more’ rule. And the method of accounting for this needs to be more objective. It should be on the basis of kilometres driven and fuel used, regardless of conventional or alternative source. We can certify this under the current model. The annual roadworthiness test takes into account the kilometres driven over the year. What would we achieve if we changed the paradigm? First of all, that people will only use their private car when they really need it. For example, going on holiday, going to hospital urgently, transporting property. This method would deter many people from making daily journeys to destinations duplicated by public transport. It would even positively influence the development of such. Even the most anti-establishment analyst will tell you that public transportation is more economical and more environmentally friendly. We just need to stop tolerating the car industry and put it on an equal footing with all other areas of life. Otherwise it will always be the skeleton in the cupboard of any Green Deal and future plans to tackle the environmental problems facing society.