January 29, 2008
I received a provocative note from my good friend and colleague, Eberhard Rhein, and with his permission, publish it below:
During their recent visits to Ryadh the French and US Presidents have called on the Saudis to lower the oil price as it hurts American and French families. They received a polite but firm answer saying that Opec would raise production when the market justifies it.
Their strange plea shows how serious Sarkozy and Bush really take climate change. They either do not give a damn about it or fail to understand anything about market forces. The quadrupling of oil prices during the last five years has helped raise awareness that oil and other fossil energy may be running out. Without rising oil prices, business and consumers would not have undertaken the effort to enhance energy efficiency or switch to wind and solar energy.
Their joint call was therefore inappropriate and unwise. They should have told their interlocutors that they expect oil producing countries to reduce their exorbitant energy waste and C02 emissions, which have skyrocketed to outstrip even those of the US, on a per capita basis. But that might have been demanding too much from two leading statesmen in the western world more interested in selling arms and nuclear reactors!
Whatever Bush and Sarkozy may publicly declare, there is no way of preventing a further rise of oil prices. Some energy gurus already anticipate oil prices in the range of $ 150-200 by 2020. Humanity needs rising oil and gas prices, however painful this may be for citizens. Otherwise it is difficult to imagine how we will take the necesssary action to wean us from our addiction. If politicians are unable to take tough mandatory action for reducing C02 emissions, the market will do it for us. And we will have no choice but to accept it.Author : Stanley Crossick