Carbon credits for the city of «La Paz»

Carbon credits for the city of «La Paz»

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«Tierra mía, mi canción como un lamento

va en las noches desde ignota lejanía

y en tus versos el recuerdo hecho armonía

sollozando por el monte lleva el viento.» (link)

On the occasion of the 206 years of the first libertarian feat of La Paz in Bolivia (held every July 16th.) I wanted to start this text with the beautiful lines of the tango «Illimani» written by the great Nestor Portocarrero. «Paceño» of birth and heart, every time I remember my city I feel with a mix of love and sad. La Paz is a city that welcome with affection to all compatriots whom decided to establish their roots in the city; a city that inspires the deepest passions and wildest dreams… this city today celebrates another year of courage… I would want to be there, to feel the chill of your winter, waiting at the top of your mountains a new dawn, clean and clear.

In principle, dear reader, thank you for allowing me this small license. Well, now let’s start with the discussion topic. The city of La Paz, like many cities in the world, is not aside to the challenges of the new millennium, one of them is the public transport. If there is one constant in this new millennium, it is that cities are collapsing because of the number of cars and the little (or almost none) answer to find alternative ways of solution.

In this context, in the city of La Paz two very interesting projects were implemented: 1) Puma Katari bus system and; 2) the cable car. The first consists of a network of buses (municipal property) than through fixed routes tries to give transport options to the citizen. The second was an initiative of the central government and consists of a network of «teleféricos» taking advantage of the geography of the city, so full of «ups and downs», many vehicles are suspended on a cable traction. I add a couple of pictures of both systems, they improved the quality of life of La Paz and, in addition, improved the visual appeal of the city.

They are not few times when I wanted to analyze the impact of both projects naturally from the point of view of diesel oil consumption. The hypothesis is simple: mass transport systems reduce the consumption of diesel oil in the region. While Pumas Kataris network also uses diesel oil, the idea is that now its consumption is more efficient; in the case of the cable cars, even if the electricity used comes from thermoelectric use, more efficient energy consumption is also expected.

I mentioned this idea to a couple of friends and we both agree that it’s still too early to make a proper assessment of its impact… they are right; however, because this space is not part of a thesis and only tries to provoke more research among young people, let me share some statistics. In the figure below you can see the diesel oil consumption (January-February-March) in La Paz during recent years, certainly since 2013 a slowdown is observed and then, in 2015, a fall.

However, the behavior of La Paz is because a national trend? In an effort to answer this, I present below the diesel oil consumption nationwide. Clearly the trend of 2015 is different from that observed in La Paz.

Are these final results? The answer is no, but… but, they go in the anticipated direction, that is, since the implementation of both projects the diesel oil consumption declined. As is usual in statistical analysis, we should respond if this is a simple correlation or there is a cause/effect relationship. I leave that to some audacious student wishing to investigate this in his thesis.

How could La Paz take advantage of this result? If it’s true that the consumption of diesel oil decreased, maybe we can think in carbon credits. What? Internationally there is a compensation mechanism to «protect» the environment, very simple: if you steadily pollute less, you can receive money. There are few countries and institutions that implement large-scale projects supported by this type of financing.

Finally, a salute to my beautiful «La Paz» that gave birth to my dear Santi and now take care of him with the same love that took with me.

Mauricio Medinaceli Monrroy

Kabul, July 16th, 2015.

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