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Oil

The current oil crisis has reminded us that there are also shorter-term, and now very pressing, reasons why all countries have to end their addiction to oil.

To address the problem of oil consumption, it is necessary to appreciate how we use it. The transport sector, which currently accounts for 60 to 70% of  oil consumption, and could account for over 93% of growth in oil use, is where most efforts are now required. On the other hand electricity production only accounts for 8% of that oil consumption, and this is due to drop, while oil only accounts for around 7% of total electricity production, leaving this as an area of much lower priority. The remainder of oil consumption for energy purposes is accounted for by 'industry' (9.6%) and 'domestic and tertiary' (21.3%).

If the impact of high oil prices is serious on the most developed economies, it is even more damaging on less developed countries. For less developed economies high oil prices consume foreign currency reserves and can rapidly lead to social disorder (recent events in Honduras and Indonesia are testament to this).

Today's high oil prices are a consequence not only of higher demand by emerging economies like India and China and geopolitical instabilities in oil-producing countries. The market is also anticipating that supply will be limited. Among geologists an intense debate on the so-called 'peak-oil' has begun. The peak theory is based on the presumption that at a certain date in the future the demand for oil will outstrip production. When this happens the price of oil will rocket with dramatic consequences on the world economy. While so called pessimists like Colin Campell of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil, claim that this could happen as early as 2008, the more optimistic geologists from the big oil companies maintain that it will not happen before 2025. Even if the truth lies somewhere in the middle, an oil peak around 2015 is such a threatening possibility that politicians must act now.

Getting rid of oil will also have a number of positive side-effects:

  • cutting the massive air pollution due to burned oil;
  • avoiding the dangerous impacts of the oil activities in the extraction areas (deforestation, threat on marine and coastal biodiversity, pipeline construction in protected areas...);
  • sparing the world from oil tanker disasters like the Erika and Prestige disaters.

To leave the oil age and go for a sustainable futur, the Greens want:

  • A set of measures at EU level to reduce the EU's dependency on oil;
  • Rapid action from the European Commission;
  • Each member state to take urgent domestic measures to reduce consumption;
  • To do everything to eliminate already now the increasing likelihood of wars on natural resources (and especially oil) in the 21st century;
  • To adress the transport issue: the most urgent solutions to the problem of high oil prices come from the transport sector.

Reducing our oil dependency is also changing our transport policy priorities!

Oilwatch homepage

Price of oil webpage

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