FAQ about the Triple Benefit Principle

10 most frequently asked questions:

1. QUESTION: Isn’t this unrealistic? How many people can do that much cycling?

ANSWER: When I switched from occasionally cycling to integrated cycling in 1996, I also underestimated my options. Don’t forget that train travel also reduces carbon dioxide emissions and saves money. Time spent on a train can also be used well. A small amount of creativity, planning and logistics is all that is required. The opportunities and possibilities at hand are enormous once we’ve become aware of them. That is why I developed the Mobility-Workshops.

2. QUESTION: Isn’t it futile though as long as oil production isn’t limited by law?
ANSWER: Of course I am for a drastic step-by-step reduction of oil and coal production through internationally enforced regulations. But a change of that magnitude isn´t going to happen overnight. By using the Triple Benefit Principle, however, we can develop important and necessary alternatives in the meantime.

3. QUESTION: Can’t I also make a meaningful contribution to the field of sustainable energy without switching to cycling?
ANSWER: Of course, but with only half the benefit, because the immediate and direct reduction in gasoline consumption would be lacking. And you’d me missing out on those important savings.

4. QUESTION: Wouldn’t this privatizing of sustainable energy be counterproductive?
ANSWER: That’s just a good excuse for all those who don’t want to use their brains or change their lifestyles. It has proven to be naïve to believe that international conventions (Kyoto, Copenhagen, Cancun) will deliver us the solutions to the problems. I see it as our responsibility to develop alternatives to the destructive status quo of squandering our energy and resources, which is forcing millions of people into poverty each year and causing wars. The proposed model –and I consider the Triple Benefit Principle to be a part of it—would make it easier to maintain those future regulations, which we must continue to strive for.
Side remark: What I think is lacking in so many cycling-campaigns is a connection to the idea of making a lasting investment out of the savings earned from a switch to alternative forms of transportation. Those lacking an awareness for the long-term implications could end up using those savings, for example, to book cheap airline tickets, which would nullify all of the ecological advantage that was gained by cycling in the first place.
5. QUESTION: Aren’t there far too few available locations for producing clean energy from sun and wind power?
ANSWER: Unfortunately this misinformation is still being propagated although it isn’t true. Read the book, “Der Energethische Imperativ” (The Energy Imperative) by Hermann Scheer. He lists the facts about
a possible transfer to 100% sustainable energy in Germany by the year 2050. And that’s without fully exploiting all of the potential of the Triple Benefit Principle.
Postscript (4/29/2010): The HIS-Study “Energierevolution 2050” calculates a possible 50% reduction in energy usage and a 90% reduction in CO2 emissions by the year 2050.

6. QUESTION: Sustainable energy is only subsidized by the government to a small degree. What are the possible economic ramifications if people begin driving less and as a result begin wanting to invest in solar and wind energy?
ANSWER: Total governmental subsidies for alternative energy sources are still relatively low. In Austria, the average tax deduction per inhabitant is a maximum of €50 per year. My annual capacity for investment derived from the Triple Benefit Principle is somewhere between €3,000 and €6,000. In other words, even if I subtract one-fifth of my wind energy production, because 2 cents of the approx. 10 cents incoming tariff/kWh are subsidies, I still have far surpassed my individual energy turning- point .

7. QUESTION: What is the “individual energy turning-point”?
ANSWER: The energy turning-point occurs when a country or a community no longer gets any of its energy from non-sustainable or atomic energy sources. It is imperative that we reach the energy turning-point because conspicuous energy-consumption is causing millions of people to suffer poverty, disease and death. (see UNDP-Report 2007/2008)
As individuals, we cannot influence political processes and decisions quickly enough, but using the Triple Benefit Principle, we can consistently produce more sustainable energy each year and eventually arrive at the point where we are producing as much sustainable energy as one citizen is consuming. In Austria, that is presently 50,000 kWh per person and year. I call this point the “individual energy turning-point”. Of course there are strong variations in energy consumption, but 50,000 kWh is a reference point. It is easy to estimate one’s energy consumption in accordance with lifestyle and with the help of CO2-emission calculators and ecological footprint calculators. Once people begin informing themselves, they soon discover that there is substantial potential out there for savings.
The production of sustainable energy will create many new jobs and be an incentive for the industrial complex to switch over to new energy sources.
8. QUESTION: If vast numbers of citizens begin following your example, won’t that destroy the automobile industry, thereby drastically raising the unemployment rate?
ANSWER: Ten years ago, many people just shook their heads about my cycling, today people are much more informed about the destructive environmental impact of internal-combustion engines and many agree that cars must go. They also know that investments made in sustainable energy in fact create more jobs and have a positive effect on the balance of trade.
9. QUESTION: How do you intend to get other people to follow your example?
ANSWER: I often used to hear, “ If you’re the only one doing it, it doesn’t do any good”.
Since then, an awareness for the problem has grown. Numerous cycling-initiatives have been developed and critical thinkers are ready to change their lifestyles.
I believe that I have also contributed a little to this development through my numerous lectures, publications and workshops.
10: QUESTION: What, in your opinion, is the greatest obstacle to achieving the energy turning-point?
ANSWER: Mental laziness and the unwillingness to give up old habits combined with illogical fears. I addressed this issue several years ago in the articles, “Who Kicks the Habit?” and in “Kreativität gefragt” (Creativity Needed). The longer people delay in making the decision to adapt the Triple Benefit Principle, the longer it will take to reach the energy turning-point, and the greater the global damage will be.

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