Fossil Fuels

Putting The Real Story Of Energy And The Economy Together – Gail Tverberg

April 17, 2015 // 0 Comments

What is the real story of energy and the economy? We hear two predominant energy stories. One is the story economists tell: The economy can grow forever; energy shortages will have no impact on the economy. We can simply substitute other forms of energy, or do without. Another version of the energy and the economy story is the view of many who believe in the “Peak Oil” theory. According to this view, oil supply can decrease with only a minor impact on the economy. The economy will continue along as before, except with higher prices. These higher prices encourage the production of alternatives, such wind and solar. At this point, it is not just peak oilers who endorse this view, but many others as well. In my view, the real story of energy and the economy is much less favorable than either of these views. It is a story of oil limits that will make themselves known as financial limits, quite possibly in the near term—perhaps in as little time as a few months or years. Our underlying problem is diminishing returns—it takes more and more effort (hours of workers’ time and quantities of resources), to produce essentially the same

Lead, Don’t Follow on Climate Justice

April 9, 2015 // 0 Comments

RECENTLY, THERE HAS BEEN a growing discussion of climate change as a moral issue, both in academia and in religious communities. This past fall I spoke at three religion and climate change conferences in as many months, including a conference at Harvard Divinity School, “Spiritual and Sustainable: Religion Responds to Climate Change,” and in June 2015 I will join many global thinkers at a process theology conference on climate change in Claremont, California. The highly anticipated encyclical from Pope Francis on climate change will undoubtedly contribute and bring attention to this discourse. Frequently, however, the acknowledgment that climate change is a moral issue on which religious people should engage is the end of the conversation. There has not been nearly enough discussion about what it means to engage with this moral challenge. We have not yet answered how and where we should be taking our stand in response to climate change. I argue that when religious people answer the call of the climate crisis, we must bring real moral leadership to the climate justice movement. The first kind of engagement with the climate crisis is usually a change in consumer behavior, reducing one’s personal carbon footprint. In our consumer-focused society, it

Shell’s Climate Change Strategy: Narcissistic, Paranoid, And Psychopathic

March 30, 2015 // 0 Comments

In an open letter to Shell’s Ben Van Beurden, the UK’s former top climate envoy says now is the time for him to show leadership Dear Mr. van Beurden – one month ago, at the IP Week dinner in London, you gave a speech calling on your peers, as you put it in your title, to be “Less Aloof, More Assertive” on climate change. Given your prominence as CEO of Shell and the resurgence of interest in climate, your speech has rightly provoked debate. Perhaps I could set out some reflections that passed through my mind as I studied it. I feel privileged to be doing so from this platform. I hope the CFE family, and Jean Eudes [Moncomble, CFE Secretary General] particular, will see this as an appropriate way of honouring their invitation. Your speech, Mr. van Beurden, was after all an appeal to your industry, which is strongly represented here today. Most of what I am about to say applies well beyond Shell. The title of your speech is intriguing. I have been involved in this debate for twenty years, six of them as the UK’s diplomatic envoy on climate change. During that time many adjectives have been

Death of US Coal Exemplifies Need for Paradigm Shift for Global Energy System

March 25, 2015 // 0 Comments

A new report released Tuesday by the London-based Carbon Tracker Initiative warns that the crash of U.S. coal markets is but a harbinger of things to come for all fossil fuel investments. The report, The U.S. Coal Crash – Evidence for Structural Change (pdf), found that the slump in coal prices has forced more than two dozen U.S. coal companies into bankruptcy over the past three years. With the rise of renewable energy and a growing call for countries to adapt their energy infrastructures for a more carbon-constrained future, the authors of the report argue that the crash of the U.S. coal economy “provides an excellent example of how the future may pan out globally and with other fuels as the world moves to a low-carbon economy.” According to the study, the market’s demise has been driven by a combination of factors, including: lost market share to cheap shale gas, the falling cost of renewable energy sources, and increased environmental protections and industry regulation—driven largely by the Environmental Protection Agency. Further, international markets in Asia have similarly moved to adapt their energy usage in the face of growing concern over carbon emissions. “The roof has fallen in on U.S. coal, and alarm

Oil Can’t Match Solar On Cost, Even At $10/Barrel

March 9, 2015 // 0 Comments

One of the biggest banks in the Middle East and the oil-rich Gulf countries says that fossil fuels can no longer compete with solar technologies on price, and says the vast bulk of the $US48 trillion needed to meet global power demand over the next two decades will come from renewables. The report from the National Bank of Abu Dhabi says that while oil and gas has underpinned almost all energy investments until now, future investment will be almost entirely in renewable energy sources. The report is important because the Gulf region, the Middle East and north Africa will need to add another 170GW of electricity in the next decade, and the major financiers recognise that the cheapest and most effective way to go is through solar and wind. It also highlights how even the biggest financial institutions in the Gulf are thinking about how to deploy their capital in the future. “Cost is no longer a reason not to proceed with renewables,” the 80-page NBAD report says.It says the most recent solar tender showed that even at $10/barrel for oil, and $5/mmbtu for gas, solar is still a cheaper option. The bank says intermittency of wind and solar is not

Bank of England Issues Warning Over Looming ‘Carbon Bubble’ Threat

March 5, 2015 // 0 Comments

The Bank of England, one of the oldest banks in the world, has joined the growing ranks of those warning of the financial risk posed by a “carbon bubble,” which will occur if urgently needed climate change regulations render coal, oil, and gas assets worthless. “One live risk right now is of insurers investing in assets that could be left ‘stranded’ by policy changes which limit the use of fossil fuels,” Bank of England official Paul Fisher told (pdf) the Economist’s Insurance Summit 2015 in London on Tuesday. “As the world increasingly limits carbon emissions, and moves to alternative energy sources, investments in fossil fuels and related technologies—a growing financial market in recent decades—may take a huge hit.” Reserves are by definition bodies of oil, gas or coal that can be drilled or mined for financial gain. Currently, regulators allow companies to book them as assets, and on the assumption that they are at zero risk of being stranded—left below ground, “value” unrealized—over the full life of their exploitation. But several recent analyses have shown that most existing reserves of fossil fuels cannot be burned if global warming is to be limited to 2° Celsius, as the world’s nations have pledged. A study in January found that to avert climate
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