The potential for crisis if we run out of energy is very real but there is still time before that occurs. In the past two decades proven gas reserves have increased by 70% and proven oil reserves by 40%. At expected rates of demand growth we have enough for thirty years supply. Moreover, better technology means that new oil and gas fields are being discovered all the time while enhanced recovery techniques are opening up a potentially huge array of unconventional sources, including tar sands, shale gas and ultra-deepwater.
The security of global energy supplies continues to be problematic. Today, oil and gas reserves are in the hands of a small group of nations, several of which are considered political unstable or have testy relationships with large consuming countries. Eighty per cent of the ...view middle of the document...
Up to now the energy industry was judged by two metrics: its contribution to energy security and the cost of energy delivered to the consumer. To this we must now add a third: its success in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases, chiefly carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.
Fortunately, finding solutions to these differing energy crises demands a broadly similar response:
1) Reduce growing energy demand through improved energy efficiency and conservation. The key for continued economic progress is to learn how to create more wealth with less energy.
2) Research, develop and deploy a broad range of energy sources, both domestic and international, to work with properly functioning global markets to help meet future energy demands. Fortunately we already have many technologies at our disposal: from wind, wave, solar and biomass for heat and power, to liquid biofuels, biogas and electric motors for transport.
3) The so-called ‘developed countries’ along with large developing countries such as China, India, Russia and Brazil, should agree and adopt a common position on climate change, focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through an effective cross-border market and technology transfer mechanism. Put simply, we cannot hope to avoid the dangerous consequences of climate change unless global emissions are halved from current levels by 2050. At current rates of population growth and with current technologies this will be impossible without a global agreement to limit and disperse the negative consequences. Developed countries must shoulder the initial burden with an agreement for immediate emissions cuts. In return, the largest developing countries must agree to cut their own emissions in the future, but only after having achieved some recognisable level of economic development.