Saturday, September 26, 2015

VW - Motor Cars and Pollution

Finally word is out that motor car manufacturers  have duped car buyers and got away with it for years. VW has been outed but it would not be surprising (to me anyway) if other car makers are found guilty of  similar mis-deeds.

A problem is of course that we all love the convenience and effectiveness of the motor car and probably all knew that their manufacturers' fuel consumption figures were little better than figments of the imagination although only diesel engined vehicles are currently spot lighted. Yet surely this awareness applied as much to those employed by national vehicle performance checkers as to the individual car drivers?

Nonetheless the threatened fines of £11bn or so likely to affect VW in USA seem justified as safeguarding the planet from the dreadful pollution  said to be affecting us all, should be an huge priority in C21.

Interestingly Pope Francis during his (ongoing) visit to Cuba and the USA raised the issue of  climate change  saying:

“Mr. President,” Francis said, “I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution.” He added that there was still time to heal the planet for its children. “To use a telling phrase of the Rev. Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note, and now is the time to honour it,” he said.

Reverting to VW my personal view is that that company will turn out to be the Lehman Brothers of the motor manufacturing world; that is along with many other enterprises in its field VW has poorly behaved in some fundamental aspects of its specialism perhaps for years.  As in the case of Lehman Bros the first major enterprise to come to the public eye in a fundamentally damaging way, may be the enterprise  left to fall on the basis that for so serious a fault, there seems to be  need for a public sacrificial example to be made.

Accountancy  provides another example;  thus after the ENRON scandal reached the public eye, one of the world's foremost international accountancy firms, Arthur Andersen, went to the wall. However the  British banking example of the RBS where the UK government decided to rescue the bank by nationalising some 80%+ of its share holding rather than let it fail, may be the route to be taken by VW.

The disasters of Lehman Brothers RBS  and Arthur Andersen seem worse superficially at least, in many ways as scandals about money usually do.

My own view however is that significant atmospheric pollution is far worse than money being hived off in some way, or over lending and/or not being discovered by those responsible, despite the   lesser malign motivation likely to affect mpg measurements etc than banking and accountancy losses. This view arises because pouring out pollutants into the atmosphere risks the lives of us all and those of our children and grandchildren in ways in which financial losses or even fraud do not.

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