Being in the Green Driving Foundation

I wrote this early one morning to partly as a way to help figure out what bothered me about many of the conversations around Green IT, and Digital Sustainability. I’ve phrased it in a way that I hope helps less technical people understand some of the dynamics in the industry, that are an open secret but not explicitly referred to much publicly when we talk about this topic.

Imagine we have a car factory, that specialises in making really efficient cars.

You can’t buy these cars, only rent them by the hour.

Because we are really good at making cars, our cars are really profitable for us if we sell access to them on a per hour basis, but our factories are expensive, so we need to sell a minimum amount of driving hours in the cars we make, in order to make the factory profitable.

However, I did say this is profitable – we only really need to sell about a quarter of the possible driving hours that our fleet of cars can provide to cover the cost of the factory. And once we have sold half the potential driving hours available we have made enough money to make a whole new factory, and sell even more driving hours. So, that’s what we have been doing for the last few years while we tell everyone how sustainable our cars are, and how it’s the best way to drive.

Not everyone is convinced, but we also know that quite a few of the people who raise concerns about the carbon footprint of cars and driving also really like driving, so sometimes we say it’s the drivers job to drive the cars in a fuel efficient way, or pick a fuel efficient route, and really that our job is just to keep the engines efficient rather than worry about the total impact of driving. This seems to work better than we had expected.

Driving usage

But remember, because our factories and cars are still expensive, we really do need to sell those driving hours. In fact in some cases, we might even have a legal obligation to sell as many driving hours as possible ahead of every other concern, due to our legal structure.

So, we’ll offer you the first 100k USD of car use for free – we do this because it really helps when you are starting out, but it also helps you build your business around the continued use of our cars. We both know that it’ll be a pain to switch to using someone’s else cars that might be greener, or even using something different like cargo bikes for solve the same problem we were solving with cars, but that’s a problem for later.

If you’re already driving alot, we might sell our driving hours at 30% discount, as long as you can commit to a minimum amount of driving over the next three years.

Talking about more than driving

Now imagine there is a body called the Green Driving Foundation.

It’s really easy for us to be in favour of a group like this, because it keeps us all talking about driving as efficiently as possible, ahead of other measures people might take to meet sustainable transport goals.

This doesn’t mean we’re being cynical by joining a group like this, and that our intentions are bad faith – or even that a Foundation like is setup to head off discussion.

But it does mean that as long as everyone keeps talking about driving, and making driving as efficient as possible then it misses a massive part of the picture, it shouldn’t be a surprise the solutions we propose are less convincing than they could be.