Friday, 27 February 2009

New mayor says no to hybrid

Boroondara councillor Coral Ross handed over the mayoral chain of office to councillor Jack Wegman in Dec 2008.

Cr Ross had, during her term as mayor, and in line with the council's public line on sustainability, adopted the use of a hybrid car.

This piece in the local Progress Leader newspaper questioned the incoming mayor regarding the fate of the hybrid:

Cr Wegman said the environment, including water conservation, was also important.

However, he would not say whether he planned to use the hybrid car driven by outgoing mayor Coral Ross.

“I think other cars have superseded that technology so I don’t think I’ll be using that particular car, but I’ll take (council) officers’ advice on that,” he said.

We subsequently heard that Cr Wegman did take the advice of council officers on what options were available to him and he selected a car with a 'V6' engine. Whilst it's not an SUV (the council's capital nor petrol budgets are unlikely to run to such an extravagance) it's not exactly in line with the council's self professed position as "leading by example on environmental sustainability".

1. Perhaps the mayor could have taken the advice that council itself dispenses to local citizens on the topic of transport? This document contains a great deal of the relevent information and encouragement required to make an environmentally appropriate decision on a car purchase. Not doing so does seem a bit hypocritical, doesn't it?

2. Or he could have turned to the Australian Gov's Green Vehicle Guide for advice. The picture below shows how a typical Australian V6 compares with a typical hybrid (not just on CO2 emissions). No doubt here about whether the V6 engine's technology supercedes that of the hybrid . . .

to enlarge, pls. click on the picture.

3. The council has also signed up with Greenfleet to reduce the greenhouse emissions from its entire fleet of vehicles. So by operating a V6 in place of the hybrid, the fleet's vehicle emissions will have increased and logic says the Greenfleet offsetting bill should increase too. More ratepayer's money.

Putting aside the issue of the car's environmental credentials and the thinking behind that decision, we'd like to know why the hybrid was replaced in the first place? Why the 'need' for the extra expense to the ratepayers? What happened to the old hybrid, where did it go?

More important is what sort of example that the decision sets, especially from a community leader.

It's all too easy for any of us to mentally 'sign up' to being 'green' and professing our public support. What's more difficult and more important is that we as individuals and as communites act on those beliefs in the small and large decisions we make every day. Only by doing this will we actually promote and improve our sustainability.

We hope Boroondara council sets a good (and leading) example and
continues its journey towards improved sustainability outcomes for itself and for the city as a whole. If you'd like to encourage them in this, please do contact the mayor and let him know . . .

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