Back in the good old days we might have thought that we were all going to run out of oil and that was going to at least partly solve the problem of rising CO2 emissions for us. Well, as we can see below, in a way, we were absolutely right. However, human ingenuity (and greed) has ensured that we have managed to not only find new sources of oil (‘tight oil’, unconventional, shale, oilsands, etc) but also keep increasing oil production even while traditional sources peak and decline naturally.
Below is a twitter thread from Andrew Leach, a professor at the University of Alberta and “self-appointed expert waving a Ph.D. around.” He’s got a good sense of humour, and he knows his stuff when it comes to energy, emissions, and what reducing oil production to meet CO2 emissions targets actually means.
On peaking oil production specifically, he saves that tidbit to the very end.
“That said, remember that lower oil production does not equate to no new oil investment. Decline rates of existing assets exceed the decline in demand associated with increased climate action. So, don’t @ me with your hot takes on pipelines or upstream investment. 15/15”
You read that right. Mathematically, because new oil sources are peaking in production so quickly, we can actually lower oil production while still investing in new oil because we need so much new oil just to keep up with demand.
There are a lot of ways you can take that fact, including that we have the ability to do better than the 2ºC or even 1.5ºC scenarios, and save ourselves a whole lot of pain and trouble, if we don’t invest in new oil, as a world, at all.
I’ll let you ruminate about it.
Here’s Leach’s full thread.
The featured image is from Katy Perry’s “Chained to the Rhythm”, which is more topical than you might think. To satisfy copyright and fair use, if not musical taste, here’s the original video.