Clean Company Alert: Skymeter

Skymeter Corp. of Toronto is “clean” in the sense that it has developed vehicle-location billing applications that make it easy to charge people for parking, insurance and access to congested areas according to the efficiency or CO2-emission profile of their vehicle. The applications are really limitless, and of course don’t apply exclusively to emission-reduction schemes. But so-called congestion charging using GPS technology and advanced billing techniques has huge potential as a way for municipalities to reduce the number of cars, and smog, in downtown cores:

“Congestion Charging means pricing road use according to the amount, time and place of use. It is used as an economic control lever and works best in cities or regions where there are alternate transport modalities – in particular, good public transit,” according to Skymeter’s Web site. “When the cost of road use fluctuates with congestion and degree of use, it sends ‘pricing signals’ to motorists who, when they can, will alter travel times, change modalities, double-up trip purposes, carpool, etc. This behavioral change has been seen over and over and is easy to understand.”

And price signals for motorists are exactly what we need, similar to the way smart meters in the home will inform and influence energy use in households.

Branson offers $25 million for CO2-sucking invention

Need I point out that trees and other plant life are effective at sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere? Okay, I’m sure that’s not what Sir Richard Branson was talking about when he offered yesterday to pay $25 million to any researcher who can come up with a way to extract large amounts of CO2 out of the atmosphere. At first read it’s an interesting challenge, sure to get the world’s creative juices flowing. But when you think about it, shouldn’t we be more focused on keep greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere?

Also, I’m not so sure $25 million is such a big deal. Fact is, if somebody did develop a feasible way of sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere venture capitalists and goverments and companies would be throwing money at them… Makes me wonder if this $25 million “prize” is just a promise of a venture capital investment dressed up as an award — i.e. Will Sir Billionaire have rights to this invention should it ever emerge?