I'm almost speechless about all that went down about congestion pricing. What I can manage to say is that I found this fascinating LA Times article about London converting its congestion pricing scheme to a carbon emissions pricing scheme. Vehicles with the highest emissions will be levied a high charge than hybrid vehicles, which have the lowest emissions (though I believe there is still a nominal charge for entering the congestion zone.) From the article:
Record producer Jonathan Shalit doesn't need his Mercedes 500 SL for the drive from his house in Kensington across town to his office in Soho. But he likes it, and he can afford it.
"Someone like me who has a big, fat, gas-guzzling Mercedes 500 probably deserves to be taxed to the hilt. I like big cars, and I'm wealthy enough," said Shalit, who is probably best known for discovering singer Charlotte Church.
On the other hand, Shalit already has picked up on London's ubiquitous green zeitgeist, and even before the new CO2 charge debuts, he's started riding his bicycle to work three days a week. Last month -- even he couldn't believe it -- he test drove a new Lexus hybrid.
"I'd have to say overall, I'm not convinced [the charge] is bad. If I'm really honest. Because we have to do something drastic in London," Shalit said. "I do know that London's too crowded. I do know there are fumes about. It's a fundamental challenge citizens have, how do we go forward and deal with the challenge in big cities?
"And when all the rhetoric's over, no one's got a better idea."
I just came back from ULI sustainable development conference, and I have to say after two full days of listening to bottom-line-driven developers tackling the issue of sustainability (what a different 12 months makes! this is so different than last year's conference), I think there could be something to this carbon emissions scheme. Local governments are racing to regulate and place limits on carbon emissions. Even if our federal government won't ratify the Kyoto Protocol, our cities and states will push on it.
Speaking of local politics, it will also be interesting to see if Ken Livingstone gets re-elected this May.
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