Earth Doctor / Climate Troubadour

Shell Oil installing electric charging stations across Europe.

Shell Oil installing electric charging stations across Europe.

The future is here. The nations of the world (all except the US federal government) have agreed to start phasing out fossil fuels. Is remotely possible for us to bring this about in time to prevent runaway climate catastrophe? What sources of information can be believed when so much is at stake?

Transportation is responsible for approximately 22% of global CO2 emissions. This is starting to change, though. The major auto manufacturers are all well along in developing electric vehicle fleets, which in time will displace fossil fuels with electricity from renewable sources.  Electric cars are several times more energy-efficient than gasoline vehicles, much cheaper to drive, and have only a small fraction of the moving parts of gasoline vehicles. Fewer parts means very low maintenance cost.

How fast will EVs begin to replace gas and diesel vehicles?  Unsurprisingly, estimates from the oil industry are relatively slow. But the world’s auto makers think it will happen much faster. And now several countries are beginning to phase out gas and diesel vehicles, including Germany, Norway, India, France, the U.K., the Netherlands and now China. Analysts think this could result in peak oil demand by the late 2020s. When demand for oil starts dropping off even a little, the result is a crash in oil prices and profits. Today, global demand for crude oil is about 99 million barrels per day. The 2014 crash in world oil price, however, resulted from a drop in demand of just 2 million barrels per day, or 2 percent.

Shell Oil is not taking any chances. They are teaming up with BMW, Daimler, Ford and VW to provide rapid electric vehicle charging stations across Europe. Charging will reportedly take an average of 5-8 minutes. Just seven years from now, Shell is planning for 20% of its profits to come from electric vehicles. The take-home message is: ignore what the oil companies are saying. Watch what they are doing.

The biggest oil companies have been fully aware of the connection between oil and climate change for several decades. Exxon knew about it well before we did. The corporate thirst for profits is simply so powerful that these companies would, literally, sacrifice the world for money. Fortunately, the nations of the world, and most of the private business world (except for fossil interests) has more sense than this. “Peak oil” will indeed happen, but not because we run out of the stuff. It will happen because we can do the same job more cheaply and easily with other energy sources. And enjoy less pollution, healthier children and a more robust economy at the same time!

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