09 May, 2010


In the election debates broadcast on TV there has been an alarming absence of any political acknowledgement or discussion surrounding Peak Oil and the imminent energy crunch likely to undermine our economy during the next government's term of office.  Without secure and affordable sources of energy our economy cannot function let alone grow!  This is well documented in the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre video; "Natural Regression".

The first report of the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security (ITPOES) is essential reading for anyone in authority and in a position to initiate energy security contingency planning down to the community level. Energy security will have a more direct and immediate impact on us all in the coming years, eclipsing the Government's priority to mitigate Climate Change.If you don't have time to read the whole report then just read the Forward by Lord Ron Oxburgh (former Chairman of Shell), the Executive Summary and Conclusions to get the gist of what is in store for us in the very near future.

Executive Summary extract:
"Energy policy in the UK: reversal of priorities?
Neither the government, nor the public, nor many companies, seem to be aware of the dangers the UK economy faces from imminent peak oil. Big as our current economic problems are, peak oil means a very high probability of worse problems to come.  The risks to UK society from peak oil are far greater than those that tend to occupy the government’s risk-thinking, including terrorism.  Currently, it seems to us, the government places climate change as first priority for policymaking, followed by energy security, with peak oil (if it is viewed as a problem at all) in last place. In our view the more serious short-term climate-change impacts – substantial as they will be – will not be the first to wash over our economy.  Peak-oil impacts are more likely to arrive first, with 2011-13 being a worryingly early candidate window based on the evidence in Opinion A.  The core priorities we think the country faces are the reverse of the government’s current thinking. First we need to buy insurance for our national economy against peak oil. Next in line comes wider energy security, because our gas supplies are much at risk from geopolitics.  We could in principle face the prospect of power shortages as soon as the coming winter, but on balance we believe a gas crunch is less likely to hit than peak oil before 2013.  Climate change in this approach comes third not because it is less important, but because its severest impacts are further out than 2013."

If we accept the above premise which is shared by Lloyd's Insurance (World leaders in risk assessment and management) and the US Military amongst many others, then we are running out of time to prepare contingency plans and mobilize resources to mitigate energy uncertainty as the timeframe for establishing a low-carbon local economy must therefore be brought forward from 2050 to within the next Parliament.

I have read all the political party policy Manifestos but none acknowledge Peak Oil or indicate a time-frame for urgent contingency planning and priority actions.  There has to be a policy on Peak Oil just as there is on Climate Change.

If the next Government intend to follow the time-frame simply to mitigate Climate Change set by the previous Government and EU Directives i.e. transition to a low carbon economy by 2050 then all is lost!  We urgently need to prepare communities for energy descent towards a low-carbon economy (imposed by over-population and ensuing resource depletion) by 2020 and no later. 

The enormity of the task ahead of us is made clear in the summary of Professor David MacKay’s speech to the House of Lords 13 January 2009.   He is now Scientific Advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

From a risk management view point, it makes much more sense to plan for the more immediate energy crunch facing us as this will inevitably fulfill climate change mitigation too.

The February 2010 second report of the UK Industrial Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security concludes:
"The severity and impact of the Oil Crunch in terms of economic disruption will be largely determined by the degree to which the period to 2014 is used to plan and adapt to the real threat of restricted oil supplies"

Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any sense of urgency in dealing with this major issue which is very worrying. Cross party consensus on this is also essential as we can no longer continue to pretend there isn't a problem.

Everyone should be asking their election candidates if this is a top priority and what they would do about it?

Go here to find out who your election candidates are and then write to them to raise awareness and get some kind of response to this pressing major issue.

Doing nothing or the bare minimum is no longer an option as the economic and social implications of not preparing for massive energy cost hikes and supply disruptions are horrendous and could quickly lead to an extended national emergency.  Those of us that endured the early 1970s energy crisis temporarily imposed by the Arab oil embargo and coal miners’ strikes that resulted in fuel rationing and the three day work week can attest to this.

The difference this time is that because of energy resource depletion and the limited potential for renewable energy (for logistical and geopolitical reasons) there may be no viable way to avoid a long term energy crisis using conventional technologies which puts our National Security at high risk.

A possible long term solution to our looming energy crisis that warrants further investigation and evaluation can be found here.

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