13 July, 2007
I was moderating a debate on road transport in Brussels this week and mentioned in my conclusions that future transport policies should take into consideration potential higher oil prices because of the oil demand/supply crunch to be expected in the future (see also the recent IEA report on which I wrote a blog post earlier in the week).
I immediately got a harsh critical reaction from a well-known Brussels NGO representative criticising me for bringing up the “peak oil” issue. Higher oil prices will only lead to more exploration of tar sands and development of coal-to-liquids, things that would be even more damaging for climate change, the NGO man said.
I can understand this point of view but it is not good enough to just sweep the peak oil issue under the carpet. It confirmed my analysis that green NGOs are as afraid of the new energy scarcity as the political elites but maybe for other reasons. I had had discussions before with other NGO friends that “peak oil” was just a scare story made up by the big oil companies to get support for their dirty oil plans.
I really do not understand this. As long as “peak oil” remains a taboo, the NGOs will be unable to formulate adequate responses to the climate change/energy scarcity conundrum as both issues are two sides of the same problem: the lack of recognition that our economic system has a physical, ecological dimension whose restraints will have to be respected when transforming our current economic growth religion into the new ecological economy paradigm.
Maybe the real problem that NGOs have is that they will have to admit that neither energy efficiency nor renewables alone will solve the climate change/energy scarcity issue but that they will have to address difficult issues such as consumerism and population growth, battles which might split their constituencies and their leaders.
Are there any other views on why NGOs fear the peak oil debate? I would like to hear your views.Author : Willy De Backer