We are facing the obvious consequences of a war. Among them, the economic ones that surround us all. Perhaps one of the most alarming is the increase in gasoline and diesel prices.
It has been a hard hit for drivers and small businesses, especially. Russia's invasion of Ukraine will affect oil prices all year, that's almost certain. Some will benefit from this, but what matters to us is the common people. Although our pockets will be affected, perhaps not everything is so negative. Could it be a good time to start saving energy?
And it is not only about gasoline, but also about utilities. The rise in prices will continue and it is necessary to take measures, not only financially, but also to learn to live with less waste.
The economic weight of fuels
The increase in fuel prices has been caused by the war. The destabilization has been very evident in recent months. Filling up a tank of gasoline costs almost 30 euros more than last year in Spain and the discounts applied at service stations, since last month, do not seem to have solved much.
The economic ravages of bad decisions by the powerful will always hit the most vulnerable hardest. But, the desperation of an economy in crisis prevents the common people from taking rational and intelligent actions. My purpose with this article is to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
First of all, crises do not last forever. While this is the current scenario, we do not know what it will be in a couple of years. The economic affairs of the world and the financial sector are constantly going through ups and downs. Being aware of this helps us not to fall into despair. In good times, to be predictive, and in bad times to be austere, will benefit us to weather crises.
Secondly, we are at a time that could be decisive for a change of mentality. Just as 2020 made us aware of many aspects of our actions in the world, 2022 could be the year of energetic consciousness.
Key moment to raise energy saving awareness?
I like to think so. Maybe it could be a forced awareness and not as we would like it to be: by our own will. But, sometimes, circumstances that we neither ask for nor can control are the ones that make us push for big changes.
It sounds bad to say, however, I have to: when we are comfortable we get a kind of amnesia, we forget the difficulties. In times of peace, we forget to sow and in times of war we focus on lamenting. The idea with this post is that we lament less and take the opportunity to act. Thus, in times of peace we will have the habit of "doing" and, then, it will be easier to sow.
Recommendations for saving on gasoline
Before going into the recommendations, I would like to refresh some data. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the main human activity that emits excess CO2 on the planet is the combustion of fossil fuels, both for power generation and transportation.
The combustion of gasoline and diesel for human and commercial transportation accounts for the largest number of emissions, not only in the United States. In Spain, transportation accounts for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Isn't it worth trying to lower these emissions? During the critical period of the pandemic, emissions obviously fell. Perhaps this economic crisis will encourage us to continue that reduction. I am not encouraging a freeze on trade, let alone on people's lives. I am simply saying that there are lifestyles that could be friendlier to the environment and, at the same time, to our personal or family economy.
We can reach the same result through different means. If the neighborhood store is nearby, why go by car and not walking or biking? Just to give a simple example. The International Energy Agency (IEA) published some recommendations to reduce gasoline consumption, probably pointing to the economic factor. But, it does the same effect of reducing emissions.
Alternate circulation in big cities, i.e., take the car out every other day.
Increase carpooling and promote energy-efficient driving practices.
Reduce the speed limit on highways to at least 10 km per hour.
Encourage cycling and walking, and offer discounts on public transport.
Travel by night and high-speed trains, rather than by air.
Decrease or cancel business travel when alternatives such as virtual meetings are available.
Work from home at least 3 days a week.
Promote efficient driving and driving in trucks.
Implement car-free Sundays in cities.
Continue working on the transition to electric vehicles.
Incredible as it may seem to you, these measures could save around 3 million barrels of gasoline, according to the IEA. Not a negligible figure.
In terms of energy savings, I don't have much more to say. We all know that we can do our part from our homes. Excess electricity consumption is a problem that is in our hands to solve.
The idea is that we can, as a society, come up with solutions that benefit us both economically and environmentally. This would put us on the road to a sustainable economy and lifestyle. Efforts are never too little and the results in the long term could be much better. It is worth taking these actions and our primary motivation should be to take care of our great home.