I sat next to a chap from Citicorp Bank for Sunday lunch at a pub last weekend. His company was apparently waiting to hear about the $20 billion cash injection from the US government. But he was more struck by the news about America’s car giants and their approach to getting a government bail out.
I could hardly believe my ears. With no shortage of regular flights available, all three CEOs – from Ford, Chrysler and General Motors – chose to fly to Washington in their own company private jet. My banker friend said that news of this profligacy flew around the City – the sheer crassness shocking even high earners.
Apart from the cost of three separate jets at an estimated $20,000 a piece, what about the environmental impact? At the very least, these corporate gluttons could have shared a private jet between them.
To me it was symbolic of the American car industry’s whole approach to fuel efficiency. They don’t understand it. If every car in America averaged 45mpg, apparently they wouldn’t need to import any oil. It’s currently 25mpg, which is even less than in China. And Americans travel further than the rest of us too – and own more cars.
With less than 5% of the world’s population, Americans own about a third of all cars. I don’t want to prop up their car industry – let them go. How are we ever going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions when the whole world is focused on maintaining current consumption habits at the same level as they are today?
Selling less cars, driving less miles and making cars more fuel efficient will all reduce global warming impact. Let’s spend the money on better public transport, re-designing cities and tele-commuting.
So I say ‘good riddance’ to Ford, Chrysler and GM – and let’s get rid of their bosses while we’re at it….