If there is one thing to be said about the International Energy Agency it is that it keeps its promises. Earlier this month, after it released a 10-point plan for reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian gas, the IEA promised another plan followed, to reduce consumption of oil. Today, the plan is a fact. And it looks just as realistic as the gas plan.
Leaving aside the endearing decision to put the 10 points in a charmingly simplistic infographic, here’s what the plan includes.
1. Reduce speed limits on highways by at least 10 km/h.
Currently, the speed limit on highways, at least in my part of the EU, is 140 km/h. For cultural reasons, many drivers habitually exceed this. I can vividly imagine how kindly they’ll look on a speed limit reduction and, to be perfectly honest, I don’t see even law-abiding drivers immediately remembering to keep it at 130 km/h. On the plus side, the traffic police could get rich fast.
2. Work from home up to three days a week.
This must have taken tonnes of mental effort to come up with. As the IEA accurately notes in its plan, people and their employers have already more or less got used to a hybrid work schedule. As the IEA does not note in its plan, people and their employees have already more or less got used to a hybrid work schedule and it is already being implemented.
3. Car-free Sundays in large cities.
Let me tell you how a typical Sunday looks around here. Up until 10-11 am people are sleeping in and the streets are empty. Around 11 am, it begins: the great flow out of neighbourhoods and into malls and supermarkets. I can definitely see people changing their habits in an instant but on the plus side, we need a change of government so let’s do it.
4. Make the use of public transport cheaper and incentivise micro-mobility, walking and cycling.
This point features advice such as “encouraging people to walk or cycle can be a complementary measure,” and “Rolling out programmes to incentivise the purchase of electric bikes can also be effective, particularly in cities where journeys involve larger distances.” Of course, this will only take weeks to do because it’s so simple, cheap, and people are already totally on board.
5. Alternate private car access to roads in large cities.
According to the IEA, “Restricting private cars’ use of roads in large cities to those with even number-plates some weekdays and to those with odd-numbered plates on other weekdays is a measure with a long track record of successful implementation.” That’s great, so… cities are already doing it? And those that aren’t can be motivated to do it by encouraging their citizens to take the bus and cycle more (see above). Totally doable.
6. Increase car sharing and adopt practices to reduce fuel use.
Carpooling for the school run is a great way to save on fuel. Carpooling on non-urban journeys… Where do I begin? Are we going to post ads for travel companions going in the same direction? How do we co-ordinate leave times? What if the driver’s a smoker? What if they like the wrong kind of music? What if all this is just way too much hassle and we’d rather drive on our own, fuel prices be damned?
7. Promote efficient driving for freight trucks and delivery of goods.
I love this one. It features words of wisdom such as “Vehicles can be driven to optimise fuel use. The possible measures span a wide range and can include improved vehicle maintenance (such as regular checks of tyre pressure) as well as driving habits.” Driving habits can absolutely be changed in a matter of months with the right instruction approach. Of course, all this will not interfere with drivers’ regular work and of course it will be free. “Cooperation between companies and widespread use of digital technologies can help achieve these goals.”
8. Using high-speed and night trains instead of planes where possible.
Capital idea. High-speed trains run on electricity. Electricity prices across Europe are not falling, to put it delicately. And as far as I can surmise, people who find train transport more convenient are already using it on a regular basis. But hey, this measure could save the monstrous amount of 40,000 bpd of crude.
9. Avoid business air travel where alternative options exist.
An amazingly deep and realistic measure that I have no doubt will reduce oil consumption substantially. I just know people who travel on business only take planes because they like to see the earth from above and not because it is the fastest way to get from A to B, which, in the business world, I believe, means you save money. But that’s the wrong attitude, apparently. It’s oil we need to save, not money. I have no doubt business travellers will instantly embrace this change in attitude.
10. Reinforce the adoption of electric and more efficient vehicles.
Of course, what’s a plan for cutting oil consumption if it doesn’t mention EVs? An incomplete plan, that’s what it is. The problem with this measure is that there aren’t enough EVs to go around even for those who can afford them, and that’s not just a U.S. problem. And to make matters interesting, EV prices are going up. But how about more efficient ICE cars? Well, guess what, their prices are also going up.
The Slav sends her regards to the IEA for yet another well thought-out and entirely realistic plan to reduce the world’s consumption of fossil fuels.