I was speaking to a sales rep yesterday who was driving a company car. He told me about the Irish government’s scheme to tax people for receipt of company cars. It is called Benefit in Kind (BiK).
Basically, if your employer gives you a company car, you are liable to pay 30% of the original market value of the car in tax (the original market value includes the amount the government already collects in VRT!).
However, if you do more than 15,000 per annum, the amount of BiK you have to pay drops. The more mileage you do, the less BiK you have to pay (up to a ceiling at 30,000 miles).
Sounds fair, you might say. These people are using the cars the company gave them.
Possibly, until you realise that what this law does is incentivise company car owners to use their cars more to drive to meetings (for example) where they might otherwise have taken a more carbon friendly alternative (telecon anyone?). The rep I was talking to said he will preferentially drive anywhere to get his mileage up!
If you want to tax company cars, why not do it on the basis of their carbon footprint (or engine size if that rating isn’t easy to come by). Something like â‚¬500 for cars 1.6L and less; â‚¬2,500 for 1.6L to 2L; â‚¬6,000 for 2L to 3L and â‚¬12,000 for 3L and above index linked.
I watched Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth last night and, I must say, it was very good. Hopefully it will serve as a wake up call to those who dismiss climate change as a myth. Unfortunately though, I think those who watch it will do so because they have an interest in this area and those who don’t believe in climate change will never watch it.
Some interesting facts which came out of the movie – for instance Al debunks the notion that scientists disagree about climate change. He pointed out that in a study of over 900 scientific papers on global warming (a randomised selection of 10% of all scientific papers published in the area in the last 10 years) not one scientific paper came out against global warming.
Whereas the same study looked at over 600 newspaper reports on global warming and 53% of them came out against climate change.
In the same way that the tobacco industry tried to tell us that smoking is not bad for our health, it looks like the petroleum industry is now trying to debunk global warming and right now, it is winning the PR war.
A report in Friday’s Guardian tells of a new form of clean, cheap energy production – which has academics fighting over quantum theory!
Basically, the new form of energy production, called hydrino energy, breaks the rules of long accepted quantum theory and so while it might work in practice, it doesn’t appear to work in theory! Hydrino energy was invented by Dr. Randell Mills, who claims to have built a prototype power source that generates up to 1,000 times more heat than conventional fuel and Dr Mills says that his company, Blacklight Power, has tens of millions of dollars in investment lined up to bring the idea to market.
Andreas Rathke of the European Space Agency has been one of the most vocal critics of the idea behind hydrino energy:
In a damning critique published recently in the New Journal of Physics, he argued that Dr Mills’s theory was the result of mathematical mistakes.
Now another theorist has joined the debate: Jan Naudts of the University of Antwerp in Belgium argues that the Klein-Gordon equation of relativistic quantum mechanics does indeed permit the existence of a low-energy hydrino state! Via.
If the academics can put their arguments aside and allow this new energy source to be developed, hydrino energy has the potential to yield enormous benefits globally. In the first place, it doesn’t produce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, so it would benefit the environment and secondly, it has been calculated that hydrino energy would cost around 1.2 cents (0.7p) per kilowatt hour. This compares to an average of 5 cents per kWh for coal and 6 cents for the next cheapest large scale energy source – nuclear energy.
There are still many unanswered questions with respect to hydrino energy – can it be scaled up? Is it viable? and not least of which is how does it work?
Oil companies stand to lose big time if these questions can be answered positively. With oil reserves dwindling, and their reputations lower than ever, perhaps the oil companies would do well to invest heavily in this technology!