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June 26, 2005

Comments

Roger Weller

While it is true that there are complexities in the emerging realm of carbon "ownership" I think your article actually helps to show that it may not be as complicated as it seems.

The issue of who gets the carbon credit for the use of aluminum in the production of cars identifies just how simple the issue really is. The person who buys the car that burns less fuel should get the credit. Any additional cost to produce that car would be passed on to the buyer, but offset through reduced fuel costs, and perhaps someday, carbon credits – just as the cost of hybrid cars and any savings in fuel falls to the car buyer. Ford or Toyota or Honda should not claim carbon reductions realized buy the driver of their cars. But they will get the increased sales of their fuel-efficient, carbon-reducing products consumers want.

So, Alcoa gets the benefit of sellinng more aluminum to Ford because Ford is able to sell more cars to people who want to drive cars that burn less fuel.

Kraft can't lose weight by selling low-fat foods, but it can sell more product to people willing to pay for the benefit of consuming lower-fat food.

Architects, engineers and construction companies can't claim credit for designing and building fuel-reducing buildings, but they can make money delivering those kind of structures to the buyer/occupant who then can enjoy the carbon reduction credits and energy cost savings.

Whoever actually directly reduces carbon gets the credit. The supply-chain entity gets the benefit of supplying more of what is needed to deliver the reduction to the entitiy that emits the carbon.

Steve Hinton

I can't believe this discussion.

First point: To manufacture a car produces nearly as much carbon dioxide as use in terms of quantities of oil used.

Second: The whole supply chain manages to exist by, at each step, externalising (not paying for) costs like those of increased Co2 emissions.

That there is no charge for releasing CO2 into the atmosphere is for me a real problem, to "credit" someone for releasing less is a joke.

Finally, all supply chains function on those pieces of paper or digital info we call invoices. It would be great to see something like: delivery 34 widgets: in producing these widgets we released 3.4 metric tonnes of Carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and for every 100grams of product we dumped 300 grams into landfill.
For this we have been charged X 000s of dollars, passed onto you with a 10% handling fee.

Bruce Kiesling

I can understand why Alcoa is looking toward "picking up" CO2 credits from selling lighter aluminum and creating efficiencies in supply chains, given the massive energy use associated with the refining of aluminum. Alcoa can rightly claim part of the energy savings through the recylcing of aluminum, but this is old news. The trend towards lighter, stronger, more efficient materials in manufacture is on the whole good for both the environment and the economy. However, I am more than a little dubious of the logic behind Overbey's claims. My skeptical side sees this as a ploy by an industry with a high fixed emission rate to "green" up its image by pulling CO2 credits from the supply chain and customers. On the other hand, I would rather run the risk of believing a little greenwashing than facing an industrial sector that doesn't even care. I couldn't agree with Hall more: We need to use all the levers that we have.

Bruce Kiesling

I can understand why Alcoa is looking toward "picking up" CO2 credits from selling lighter aluminum and creating efficiencies in supply chains, given the massive energy use associated with the refining of aluminum. Alcoa can rightly claim part of the energy savings through the recylcing of aluminum, but this is old news. The trend towards lighter, stronger, more efficient materials in manufacture is on the whole good for both the environment and the economy. However, I am more than a little dubious of the logic behind Overbey's claims. My skeptical side sees this as a ploy by an industry with a high fixed emission rate to "green" up its image by pulling CO2 credits from the supply chain and customers. On the other hand, I would rather run the risk of believing a little greenwashing than facing an industrial sector that doesn't even care. I couldn't agree with Hall more: We need to use all the levers that we have.

Craig Whan

I think Roger Weller's comments makes the most sense.
In addition, the Alcoa president's graph appears to be just a politically correct pitch to sell more aluminum. The real culprit is the "burning" of fossil fuels - 95% as you report above from the EPA. Even if vehicles are made out of something even lighter than aluminum, the main GHG culprit is the ubiquitous steam-age propulsion system we know as the internal combustion engine.

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