Before going on to more of that, here are two events sponsored by the Green party:
- Fri Feb 25th - Is a zero carbon Britain feasible? (Introduced by Peter Haper from the Centre of Alternative Technology)
- Fri March 25th - Will there be a World food crisis? (Introduced by the Campaigns director, World Development Movement)
So back to oil - well oil is again over $100. Hamish McRae writing this week in The Independent warns: "Let's get real, cheap oil is never coming back...Virtually all the increased demand for energy, some 93 per cent of it, will come from outside the developed world. We in the present rich world will increase energy needs a little over the next 10 years but by 2030 our consumption will be falling. By contrast, energy demand from the emerging countries will rise by more than two-thirds and still be rising fast."
In the papers I have read various comments that fuel prices seem to cost twice as much as they did a decade ago. However government figures show that the real cost of motoring has decreased by 14% since 1997!! A fuel stabiliser is an inadequate short-term dressing on a gaping wound: we can’t go on expecting fuel prices to remain low forever. Prices are bound to increase.
Nevertheless we are hitting £1.30 a litre so it is no wonder we are seeing concerns. Hauliers have said they were already planning for a possible blockade in protest at prices - and like many I got an email suggesting I join a campaign for people, for the rest of this year, not to purchase any petrol from the two biggest oil companies i.e. ESSO and BP. The reasoning goes that if they are not selling any petrol, they will be inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit.
It is certainly true that the oil companies are still, largely making obscene profits (see here). They also don't seem to have any plans to take climate change seriously as all they ever do is plan for evermore drilling - Oil company Northern Petroleum has recently confirmed that it has been successful in drilling for oil in a corner of ancient woodland on the South Downs in West Sussex and says the site has the potential to yield between 35m and 61m barrels of oil - see here. But let's not forget that the evidence is pointing to the fact that we have reached 'peak oil' - from now on it is more scarce and harder and more expensive to get out of the ground.
So is the world on the brink of another oil shock?
Well the International Energy Agency (IEA), which speaks for the big industrialised consumers in the West, has issued a warning. After sliding during the financial crisis, oil prices have shot up. This does not bode well. All the indications are that prices will rise one way or the other.
So surely this is an opportunity? Let's scrap all the absurd fossil-fuel subsidies and look for cleaner sources of power. Britain could be at the forefront of this new energy sector and tackle the threat of climate change.
Jonathan Porritt used the platform provided by the Burntwood Lecture 2010 to launch a scathing criticism of the growth fetish of society and slammed government, NGOs and professional bodies for their response to the looming environmental crisis. I think I have already pointed to that talk on this blog. He attacked NGO’s historic piecemeal approach to small scale environmental problems whilst ignoring the rampant destruction the biosphere by the capitalist economic system, saying “for every short term win there is a pattern of wider attrition of the environment.” He accused NGOs of existing in a “holding reality”, revelling in small victories but failing to issue a long overdue planetary warning. Well said!
Local Authority Peak Oil reports
Stroud District Council was one of the first Council's to entertain Peak Oil - Richard Heinberg spoke to the Cabinet - see here. However progress has been dismally slow. In contrast I read about Warwickshire County Council who have formed the Warwickshire Climate Change Partnership, which is made up of a range of partners from the public and private sectors. They have teamed up with a group of MSc students from Warwickshire Business School who have written a report on the influence of UK energy security and peak oil issues and associated higher price scenarios on the delivery of services for the many and various customers of the council. See here.
In terms of looking at what is possible it is worth seeing Green councillor Andrew Cooper on Youtube at: